When I answered the phone I immediately recognised the voice - a member of a very large family, that had been helped by the Refugee Network during various periods of stress over more than 12 years. This time there was no anxiety in her voice for any of the extended family, but wonderful news about how so many of them had built on the the help they had received from the Network and had taken advantage of educational opportunities which had put them well on the way to making a success of their lives.
The Network had been particularly anxious about the the 7 children who were of school age when the family first arrived. Besides providing beds, clothing, food and household items, the Network provided special advice to the two oldest daughters and the oldest son, and individual tutoring for three younger sons and a younger daughter, to develop their writing and comprehension skills, and to assist in their understanding of word problems in Math. Two joined the turoring groups that the Network was running for Southern Sudanese refugee children, and two younger ones were doing well once they became old enough for elementary school.
The Network provided boots and uniforms for one high school child to play on the school basketball team and one on the football team, and hired an instrument for the child at junior high school so she could be in the school music program. Once the two oldest girls turned 18 they took jobs and left home, as did the older boy, but he stayed in the area and was a frequent visitor at the family apartment. The two boys who had been tutored both went on to Community College where the football player received help from the Network with books and equipment, and the oldest boy also attended Community College to improve his job skills. He reported that he would not have had the incentive to do that, if he had not received encouragement from the volunteer tutor from the Network, who had been working with his brothers.
The news that most delighted the Network staff and volunteers, was that the junior high school student who had shown such promise, was now a freshman in University. She had been encouraged by the aunt who had telephoned, to carry on her education, and to stay near her mother as support, when her father died recently. The aunt reported that, as a freshman, this daughter was developing into a very self-reliant and capable young woman, and felt sure that the assistance she received from Network volunteers was the firm basis on which her educational success had depended.
As new families arrive, each is visited by Network staff and family members' needs are assessed. It is always so encouraging when we hear of successes that result from our interventions, that set young people on the path to preparing themselves for a brighter future. Without those interventions it is difficult for those who arrive as teenagers with no English language skills to make any headway at school. That makes it very difficult to prevent their dropping out and joining the ranks of the unemployable. It enthuses us when we receive reinforcing phone calls like this one.
Every year the Network impacts the lives of at least 2,000 refugees, of whom 1,333 are under the age of 21. Your involvement makes a huge difference in the successes of those whose lives we touch together. Many many thanks to all of you who have provided support for this program.
We particularly would request your involvement in our effort to raise $3,000 from at least 30 individual donors between 9p.m. on Saturday November 30, 2013, and 8.55p.m. on December 31st (Pacific Time) through our project site on Global Giving. This will make us eligible for consideration by a corporate donor interested in educational opportunities for young people. Since that aspect of our work is the one many of you have told us drew your attention, please let us know how you think we can best reach others like you, who would be enthusiastic supporters of our work. And please encourage your friends and colleagues to look at our project on the Global Giving web site, and help us to reach our December target , of at least $3,000, from at least 30 different donors.
We would love to qualify for a bonus by being one of the top 9 fundraisers in this first-ever year end campaign at Global Giving. Can you help us? Together we can continue to make a major difference in the lives of these new Americans, who face so many hurdles on their way to self-reliance.
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