Bridge to Self Reliance 2000 refugees San Diego CA

Sep 1, 2011

New beginnings and challenges

For our poster girl for June, in picture 1, the end of the school year marked a huge step into a bigger world. She had attended high school in San Diego for two short years, and had enthusiastically attended every Thursday's after school tutoring/homework coaching progam, run by the Network. She had also come to community meetings with me where we spoke about the experiences of refugees as they transition to life in San Diego. But now she had reached her 18th birthday, so she was not permitted to remain enrolled in school. Fortunately she was a very able student, who worked very hard both at mastering her English skills, and at assimilating the content of the other classes, for which she had had no academic background. She is now a sales person in a small clothing store. This is in itself a real achievement, as entry level jobs are very hard to find. For most who arrive after the age of 11, this success is often beyond reach. She is an inspiration to the younger students , and to the tutors, who volunteer so many hours to encouraging and coaching these new community members.

The tutoring also provides opportunities for finding out about other needs of the children, or of their families. One tutor asked her dentist to assess the damage done to a Sudanese child's teeth under a basketball hoop. The intense pain was not so much because of the teeth! The jaw was broken. So medical and dental help were both necessary and while the jaw was wired shut, liquid diet was needed. This led to more discoveries such as the absence of pillow and bedding on the bare matress on which he was sleeping, and help needed by the grandmother with whom he lived. That young man is now in his second year of University studies.

The past three months have included finding and trainig new tutors to replace those moving on to university or to other job locations; updating materials; and collecting and filling backpacks for new arrivals, for those who have outgrown the first one we gave them. Some of the newcomers, even if they are of high school age, have never experienced formal education of any kind. We are expecting a much greater need for the services we have been providing. On July 1, this year the allocation of federal funds for refugees receiving initial help through the 4 resettlement agencies, was cut 8%, and the way that some of the initial sevices are now provided, no longer includes a specific outreach worker from the resettlement agency assigned to each family. This means that many families are likely to need someone to ask when they do not kow how to read something, or how to do things expected of them, or if they have an emergency outside of office hours. They will also be more in danger of not being able to stretch the allocation to cover food as well as rent or bus fares, let alone school supplies and clothing. A lost job, or a cut back in hours, for one or more of the breadwinners in a family who may have been in San Diego for some time, will also bring them to us, as they attempt to make ends meet.

Your interest in the work we do is very much appreciated, and your donations have made a difference in the lives of the families. There is a new Global Giving matching grants day coming up in October. Keep tuned for details later this month, and a reminder just before the day. Stretching the amount of your gift in the 24hour window of opportunity will result in more children with nourishing food and a back pack to be proud of; and help with family emergencies of many kinds. We especially appreciate your referring our project to your friends and contacts, as one you think worth supporting. That is very encouraging!



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Project Leader

Elaine McLevie

Encinitas, CA United States

Where is this project located?

Map of Bridge to Self Reliance 2000 refugees San Diego CA