Refugee Voices

U.S. CITIZEN FROM SAN DIEGO LANDS ON NO-FLY LIST

 
July 4, 2012 (San Diego) – The San Diego chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is speaking out in hopes of aiding a San Diego citizen of Somali heritage who is stranded overseas—the second local Muslim in a month to be barred reentry to the U.S.   
 
Ali Ahmed, a student majoring in journalism  at City College, is an American citizen. He came here as a refugee  and recently sought to return to Africa to meet his father, who he became separated from during the war. The two were slated to meet in Kenya, where many Somalis sought refuge.

2012 HEALTH FAIR IN HONOR OF WORLD REFUGEE DAY: SATURDAY IN CITY HEIGHTS

 

June 21, 2012 (City Heights – Somali Family Service of San Diego, in partnership with the East African Collaborative, will host its fourth annual Health Fair in Honor of World Refugee Day on June 23 from 1- 6 p.m. at the City Heights Community Park, south of the City Heights Weingart Branch Library at 3795 Fairmount Ave., San Diego.

The event brings together East African communities in San Diego in a setting where residents can get health checkups and learn about health topics including mental health, how to access care, nutrition, exercise, preventive screening and care. Community groups will also provide educational information booths in the park.

LOCAL ATTORNEY ESTABLISHES EDUCATION CENTER TO SERVICE FAMILIES WITHIN SAN DIEGO COMMUNITY

 
June 6, 2012 (San Diego) — Realizing a need to have individualized enrichment programs for students, a San Diego attorney seeks to develop an education center to serve the entire family. Breana Ha, who came to the United States as a young child in 1979 as one of the boat people, said while there are several organizations serving the Vietnamese community in San Diego, there is, however, not one that provides educational services for the entire family. That idea gave birth to the Vietnamese American Center: Education, Recreation and Culture (VACERC). 

SOMALI FAMILY SERVICES SEEKS NOMINATIONS FOR COMMUNITY AWARDS

 

June 2, 2012 (San Diego) -  The Somali Family Service (SFS) is gearing up for their second Annual OceanLeaf Awards Celebration and is now accepting nominations.
 
San Diego is home to the nation’s second largest Somali refugee population of more than 35,000 individuals. For over a decade, the SFS of San Diego has been working hard to serve this emerging East African community, seeing it progress educationally, economically and socially.

 

NEW BOOK OFFERS HELP FOR SUDANESE REFUGEES, FAMILIES IN SAN DIEGO AND SUDAN

May 30, 2012 (San Diego) – “The clash between traditional South Sudanese values and western values threatens the survival of families already rocked by decades of war, poverty and injustice,” says Walter Davis. “This book provides powerful tools with which the South Sudanese people can experience an epiphany."

Davis is editor of South Sudanese Community Insights, authored by John Chuol Kuek, chairman of the Southern Sudanese Community Center in San Diego and a refugee camp survivor. View an interview with Kuek conducted by Davis as guest host of Consider the Possibilities:
 

IMMIGRANT, REFUGEE AND BORDER-BASED LEADERS RECEIVE GRANTS TO VISIT STATE CAPITOL

April 23, 2012 (San Diego) -- The Foundation for Change announced $15,000 in grants to 15 local organizations in the Immigrant, Refugee & Border-Based Communities to attend Immigrant Day in Sacramento on May 21.  Grants of $1,000 each cover travel expenses for grantees, participation in a pre-event Orientation, Media Advocacy session at the Equality Alliance in May and a debrief session, in June. 

ENGLISH-LANGUAGE CLASSES AT EAST COUNTY COLLEGE DISTRICT PREPARE IRAQI IMMIGRANTS FOR THE WORKFORCE

 March 31, 2012 (Rancho San Diego) -- A pilot program for recent Iraqi immigrants that teaches English in the context of office work is being offered at Cuyamaca College through a partnership between the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District and San Diego County.

 

AFGHAN WOMEN’S WRITING PROJECT MENTOR & AWARD WINNING AUTHOR FEATURED SPEAKER AT MARCH SPIRIT OF THE BARRIO LUNCHEON

 

March 9, 2012 (San Diego) -- Family Health Centers of San Diego will feature award winning author and international women’s empowerment movement leader, Barbara Field, at their March 16 Spirit of the Barrio Luncheon.
 
Field, a former writer for CBS in New York is currently a U.C. San Diego Communications Manager, Opinion/Editorial Project Regional Manager and a mentor for the Afghan Women’s Writing Project.

 

SHIFAA RHYTHMS

 
Refugee Women Find Healing and Unity Through Drumming in El Cajon
 
By Nikki Lyn Pugh, MFA
 
In a large room in El Cajon, 43 women sit in a circle. Many smile and nod as they listen to the petite woman who is speaking in the center. The speaker is Christine Stevens, founder of Upbeat Drum Circles, one of the facilitators of the event that day. Christine holds a large drum in her hands as she addresses the women around her. On the skin of the drum is an image of a woman.  Her delicately- painted face is framed in a thin, light blue scarf. 

WANT TO BE A CITIZEN? FREE CITIZENSHIP APPLICATION WORKSHOP SAT. FEB. 25 IN SAN DIEGO

February 24, 2012 (San Diego) -- This Saturday, the San Diego Naturalization Collaborative will host a free Citizenship Application Workshop from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at San Diego City College Learning Resource Center, 1313 Park Blvd. in San Diego.

This newly formed coalition has launched the You Are America campaign to raise awareness about the importance of becoming a U.S. citizen and to help residents navigate the citizenship process locally.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON RELATIONS BETWEEN AFRICANS AND AFRICAN AMERICANS IN SAN DIEGO JANUARY 26

 
January 20, 2011 (San Diego)--San Diego Voice & Viewpoint newspaper will host a forum on leadership in the African and African American Communities on Januuary 26. The purpose of this event is to discuss the differences and similarities between communities, and to begin to work more collectively on issues. Thoughts and comments are welcome to this discussion on relations between those in the African and African American communities.  

PHONE SCAM TARGETS REFUGEES


January 12, 2012 (San Diego) – The  Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) has been alerted to a new telephone scam that thus far is targeting Bhutanese refugees.  A man identifying himself as a representative of the “Federal Grants Department” calls from a Washington, DC-based telephone number, (202) 436-9601, informing recently resettled refugees that they are eligible to receive $10,000 because they are refugees from Bhutan. To claim the money, they are instructed to produce a money order for $650, and call the telephone number for further instructions on where to send the money. Be advised that this is NOT a legitimate solicitation.

IRC BUS TOUR SHARES TASTY AND EXOTIC EATERIES IN EL CAJON AND CITY HEIGHTS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Megan McGlamery

Photos by Woo-Jin Shim and Natalia Robert (http://full-circle-images.com/)

December 30, 2011 (San Diego)--Since 1933, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) has been helping refugees rebuild their lives after fleeing tumultuous wars or other catastrophes in their homelands.  The IRC is currently active in 22 U.S. cities as well as overseas. In 2001, the IRC created its Microenterprise Program with the goal of helping refugees create their own businesses.

In the last 10 years, the IRC has helped 175 San Diego-based refugees become small-business owners. To showcase some of the great refugee-owned eateries of East County, the IRC hosted a Micro-finance bus tour, offering patrons a chance to sample some delicious cuisine from Iraq and East Africa.

GIFTS TO HELP REFUGEES: INTERNATIONAL RESCUE COMMITTEE PRESENTS LIST AND SAVES LIVES

 December 17, 2011 (San Diego) –This holiday season, the International Rescue Committee offers options for socially conscious, eco-friendly and financially prudent shoppers – Rescue Gifts that save and improve lives of refugees and others hit by war and natural disaster.  

San Diego County last year welcomed more refugees than any other U.S. county, making this especially meaningful here. At Rescue.org/Gifts, holiday shoppers can choose Rescue Gifts to dedicate to friends or family members, including:

LOCAL LEADERS RECEIVE MUCH DESERVED RECOGNITION FOR PHILANTHROPIC WORK

Six honorees were recognized for their work with the Somali and East African Refugee Community

November 2, 2011 (San Diego) — Somali Family Service of San Diego (SFS) held its First Annual OceanLeaf Awards Celebration to honor and recognize six community members who have made significant contributions in advancing the nation’s second largest Somali and East African refugee population on Wednesday, October 19.

 

 

AFTER EIGHT YEARS OF WAR, WHAT DO IRAQIS THINK?

 

San Diego’s East County is home to the largest population of Iraq War refugees in the U.S. and the second largest Iraqi immigrant population the nation. In a special assignment for East County Magazine, Nabil Taha interviewed local Iraqis and also translated Iraqi TV reports to learn Iraqis’ views on withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

By Nabil Taha

SURVEY FINDS 3,000 FORCED MARRIAGES SUSPECTED AMONG IMMIGRANT GIRLS AND WOMEN IN AMERICA

 

October 9, 2011 (Washington D.C.) – The Tahirih Justice Center, which seeks to protect women in the U.S. from gender-based violence, reports “an increasing number of forced marriage cases involving young women and girls from traditional immigrant communities in the United States.” Some are U.S. citizens; others are legal permanent residents, refugees, asylees, or have other immigration statuses. 

AFRICAN WOMEN AND THEIR CHILDREN FIND HELPING HANDS AT NILE SISTERS

 
Nile Banquet luncheon Saturday celebrates 10th anniversary, benefits health and literary programs for refugee women
By Miriam Raftery
 
September 15, 2011 (San Diego) –From East Africa to East San Diego, women refugees have been finding help for their special needs through Nile Sisters. As the 501(c)3 nonprofit prepares for its ten year anniversary celebration this Saturday, September 17, founder Elizabeth Lou shared reflections with ECM on the many needs that Nile Sisters has filled since opening its doors in 2001.
 
“Before, some refugees gave birth in their apartments here in City Heights,” she recalls, noting that in Africa “aunties” serve as midwives  because men are not allowed to watch childbirth and it’s considered shameful to talk about such matters. 

NILE SISTERS BANQUET SEPT. 17 CELEBRATES 10 YEARS OF HELPING SAN DIEGO'S WOMEN REFUGEES FROM AFRICA

September 6, 2011 (San Diego) – Nile Sisters, a City Heights-based nonprofit organization specializing n helping African refugee women and their families, invites the public to the 2011 Nile Sisters Banquet. The event celebrates the organization’s ten year anniversary of serving African women in San Diego. The banquet will be held on Saturday, September 17 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 7715 Draper Avenue. Tickets cost $25.

LANTERN FESTIVAL CELEBRATES ASIAN HERITAGE IN LITTLE SAIGON DISTRICT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

August 28, 2011 (City Heights)—A shimmering dragon marched past, trailed by followers beating cymbals and carrying glow sticks. Hundreds of lanterns glowed softly against the night sky, accentuated by the streaming lights of carnival rides. I sampled Thai chicken-on-a-stick, along with fried bananas and yams—all at the third annual Lantern Festival in City Heights.

NILE SISTERS WORLD REFUGEE MONTH OPEN HOUSE

 

June 14, 2011 (San Diego) -- On Saturday, June 18 the Nile Sisters will be holding an open house from 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. in recognition of World Refugee Month. The Nile Sisters help refugee women in the San Diego area with the needs they have to get settled.

 

The cost is free, but donations are appreciated. The event will include cultural music, and Hors d'oeuvre from different ethnicities. African artifacts will also be available for purchase. Please RSVP to Sistersinitiative@sbcglobal.net.

 

 

LITTLE MOGADISHU: FROM EAST AFRICA TO EAST SAN DIEGO

 

By Miriam Raftery

April 9, 2011 (San Diego)—Inside the Safari Market bazaar, a Somali woman sells bright-colored beaded head scarves,  jewelry and rugs. Two dozen vendors offer other wares and services. Nearby, African Spice restaurant serves up savory sambussas (pastry shells filled with meats, vegetables and African spices), succulent fish, lamb, goat, and an aromatic tea seasoned with cloves. Safari Market also sells groceries, such as large bags of cinnamon and rice, some labeled in Arabic.


 

No, this isn’t a street scene out of Africa. It’s a new business incubator in the East San Diego neighborhood known as “Little Mogadishu” – a hub where refugees from war-torn East African nations such as Somalia, the Sudan, Eritria and Ethiopia are starting new lives in America, aided by the nonprofit organizations Horn of Africa Community and Somali Family Services. The Safari center has created 125 jobs for East African refugees, mostly women.  Now it's become a model that is being replicated in other U.S. cities.

ALONE IN A STRANGE LAND: AFRICAN ASYLEES TELL THEIR STORIES


An East County Magazine Special Report

 

ECM conducted exclusive interviews with people who fled war-torn Somalia and were granted asylum in the U.S. Fearing retribution against family members still in Somalia, the asylees agreed to speak out under condition that their identities be protected. The stories below are real, though the names are pseudonyms. Their tales describe dramatic round-the-world journeys to reach America, hardships endured on the road and inside U.S. detention facilities, as well as hopes for the future as they start new lives through Project Refuge in San Diego.  

By Miriam Raftery

February 17, 2011 (San Diego’s East County) – Aisha comes from a rural area near Mogadishu in Somalia. “I couldn’t take it anymore,” she said of the fighting and war-torn conditions that led her to flee her homeland.

PROJECT REFUGE: ROTARY CLUBS TEAM UP WITH SOMALI FAMILY SERVICES TO SPONSOR SAFE HAVEN FOR ASYLEES

By Miriam Raftery

“We want you to have a good start in America, and for the rest of your lives.” – Dory Beatrice, president of La Jolla Golden Triangle Rotary Club, speaking to Somali women at Project Refuge
 

February 17, 2011 (San Diego) – Dory Beatrice felt shocked to learn that people who fled persecution and have been granted asylum in America are being released on the streets of San Diego with no funds, no information on resources, and no place to go.

 

So she worked with local Rotary chapters to raise funds and open Project Refuge, a transitional housing program in partnership with Somali Family Services that now assists asylees who have no family or friends here to help them.

SERENITY HOUSE, EL CAJON’S NEWEST SHOP, OFFERS CHRISTIAN BOOKS & MUSIC IN ARABIC


Egyptian proprietor also serves up coffee, snacks, and free classes to help Arabic-speaking residents

By Miriam Raftery
 

January 17, 2011 (El Cajon) --

On Saturday, throngs of well-wishers  stopped by on Saturday to bid welcome (ahlan wa sahaln, أهلا وسهلا) to Zohny Hanna at his new business, Serenity House in downtown El Cajon. The store/coffee shop offers Christian books, art, and music in Arabic. Located on Main Street just east of Magnolia, Serenity House also offers free classes in English and community orientations for East County’s growing population of Arabic-speaking immigrants, asylees, and refugees.

 

“This is my land now. America is my new home,” says Hanna, who came here on a tourist vista back in 1997 with his wife and children, then received asylum status due to persecution of Coptic Christians in his native Egypt.

 

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