Bridge to Self Reliance 2000 refugees San Diego CA

by Episcopal Refugee Network of San Diego
Bridge to Self Reliance 2000 refugees San Diego CA
Bridge to Self Reliance 2000 refugees San Diego CA
Bridge to Self Reliance 2000 refugees San Diego CA
Bridge to Self Reliance 2000 refugees San Diego CA
Bridge to Self Reliance 2000 refugees San Diego CA
Bridge to Self Reliance 2000 refugees San Diego CA
Bridge to Self Reliance 2000 refugees San Diego CA
Bridge to Self Reliance 2000 refugees San Diego CA

When I think of all the refugees now empowered to cross the bridge to self-reliance with your help, I am filled with awe at what we have achieved together. When we attend an awards ceremony to cheer on a student, or join the excitement when a refugee whom we have coached, proudly show us a citizenship certificate, we know that these are celebrations your caring has helped bring about. And when we see hope rekindle in worried refugees’ eyes as staff help them identify ways around barriers to reaching their dreams, you have been a part of that transformation.

     This will be my final report to you as our project is coming to a close. My term as a Board Member has ended and it is time for a new, much younger member to be found. Be assured that this project, you, our loyal supporters, and GlobalGiving, which has taught us so much, are all held close to my heart.   When the time is right we hope to renew this partnership. Until then please keep in touch with the refugees served by Episcopal Refugee Network of San Diego at


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Our staff told us, "The families need to be visited more frequently."  

Our refugees asked, "Can we have more times when we can talk with staff or volunteers?"

Our records indicate that more of our refugees than in previous years, are unable to come to distribution points for food, so more families are seeking home delivery.

Our experience indicates that households run by a single mother or grandmother will need visiting and supporting over a longer period than families with two or more wage earners. 

Our experience has shown us that clashes between the culture in which a family was originally raised and the culture they find here in San Diego are better solved initially in consultations held in refugee homes, rather than in more public settings.

Our donors have always shown an interest in the way the Network builds trust and confidence.

" That IS what we do best, " we decided .   

Energised by the October retreat we had just concluded, the Board of Directors for the Episcopal Refugee Network of San Diego excitedly determined several steps on our path forward, given all the feedback we had received. The first bold one is to hire two more drivers to take over some of the driving done by our outreach workers.  This will give the outreach workers more time visiting families, helping them develop  their plans for self-sufficiency. 

As we begin to raise more money to allow for this growth, we are excited to welcome on to the Board, a new member who is eager to put to work for us his skills in advertising and video-making.

  For all these reasons we are ready to move forward with your help.  Your support of our project in many different ways, has led to graduations from High Schools and from Universities and to successful completion of cerificates that lead to better jobs.  Because we work only with UN certified refugees who are legal residents in San Diego County, you can be assured that every dollar is of great value.   It will help adults and children improve their English skills; it will help us find scolarships for those ready for more education; it will open up opportunities that will keep hope and joy alive in refugee lives. 

We also are encouraged by the end of year opportunities provided by GlobalGiving. They are providing matching funds and bonuses, to leverage even more funds from your donations on Giving Tuesday and from then until December 31.  Please help us with our goal of 50 individual donors on Giving Tuesday (November 27th).  And if you can make this donation the first of regular monthly donations, the amount of the first donation will be matched up to $200. 

Please mark your calendars now!  Giving Tuesday for our project on GlobalGiving's website starts at 1 minute past midnight on Tuesday November 26 EASTERN TIME and ends 1 minute before midnight on Wednesday November 27 EASTERN TIME. 

 Matching funds will apply until they run out, so it is advantageous to find out what the eqivalent time is where you are on Tuesday 26, and arrange to check out our project, "Bridge to Self-Reliance - 2,000 refugees in San Diego", on GlobalGiving's website, to make a donation there early in the time frame.    We are aiming at 50 individual donors this time, so please ask your adult family members. to also make a donation, in that same 24 hour time-frame, each using a credit card with his/her name on it. Please like us on Facebook or other social media platforms.  Spread the word about why you have supported us in the past and our excitement about the year ahead, when you meet friends who share your interests.  It would be fun to go viral!   Most of you have been through this process before.  If all of you bring along 4 more into the 24 hour action, that would make the goal easily reachable.   

Thank you for being supporters of this project, and for all you are able to do to help us once again.

Elaine McLevie

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Watching the everyday exchanges between our staff and the increasingly multicultural families who bring us their hopes, dreams, concerns and fears, is an experience that always lightens my step, and gladens my heart.  These new members of our community sit together, plan together and become part of a trusting  group, to whom any one of them can turn for guidance and feedback. 

At first this process is difficult to imagine for a newcomer.  I remember one refugee lady who, with a puzzled look said to me, "Why are you helping us?  You are not one of our tribe."  A few months later she asked, "If you have money, why don't you just give it to us?"  And after a few more months neither question was even remembered.  Having been here just over a year, the same lady, now more at home in this country,  said, "Something is happening that makes me really worried.  Can I talk about  it with you?  I need to think about what will fix this."

I marvelled at how she had come from just trying to subsist from hour to hour, or day to day, in her war-torn country of origin, to having a sense of options and perhaps a future.  That is the process that our staff members gently encourage, by creating a safe environment for exploring. It underpins our tutoring groups that contain children of different faiths, learning together in a respectful, cooperative way. It enables the finding of common ground. What an amazing set of social skills both adults and children learn from these encounters, and what assets those adults and children become to the communities they will be part of well into the future,       

Those of you who generously give of your time or donate to our cause are also the wonderful glue that binds together this expanding group. You provide the leg work and underwrite the work hours and the items that make empty apartments into welcoming homes.  You make it possible to provide the necessary transport and translation for tutoring and every other interface with offices that refugees need to visit.  And you encourage others to join in this cause by supporting us when we need to find a magic number of individual donors for challenges, so valuable to us on Global Giving's web site. 

Please give us feedback on our reports to you, and share them with your facebook and other social media friends.  Tell them about how you came to know about this project, and why you support us. Ask them to join us in whatever way they can, so that they too can bask in the joy when we all see new members of our community succeed way beyond their own early expectations.

Elaine McLevie









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She stood in the doorway, a pile of household goods placed skillfully on her head, her face lit by a huge smile.  Central treasure in the pile was a blue enamel stock pot.  Spotless and gleaming it represented for her, the right kind of evening meal. 

"Now everyone in my family will share the pieces of chicken and the fresh vegetables", she said to our staff member.  A communal meal - a return to what had been the glue that held the family together - that was what she had yearned for most of all.

For the families still arriving from Africa and the Middle East, some semblance of what the parents think of as "normal" is difficult to achieve in a community that has different norms and expectations. 

With the added stress that comes from having escaped wars and many years in refugee camps, refugees need frequent interaction with new "friends", who can explain, coach and look for ways to provide the stock pot, or the clothes for a job interview. Someone who can speak their language can raise the spirits; and maintain hope, that is the essential ingredient in succeeding, in this new environment. That is where you, the donors who support this project, play such an integral role.   Your donations make it possible to keep our vehicles on the road collecting and delivering items that are part of each refugee's dream.  That stock pot is a catalyst. It is one wish come true.  It is a symbol that things may turn out well after all. Its arrival will be a special memory on which hope for the future depends. 

Thank you all, for your generous support of our project.  Please consider reminding your friends and colleagues about the satisfaction you receive from knowing about the many successes that your donations have brought about.  The refugees in San Diego County still need our combined efforts to achieve dream after dream. And when we hear of the job offer, or the medical problem resolved, we can all share in that joy.

With much appreciation,

Elaine McLevie

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Items ready to pack
Items ready to pack

"Another fifteen?  Where are these new requests coming from?  Did you get the fifteen I sent to you on Thursday?  And what about the 7 for women?  Who are they for?"

I was amazed how many requests for backpacks with appropriate school supplies we received between June and October 2017; far more than in that period in earlier years.  "Thank goodness for the 100 we had on hand especially earmarked for families who are newly arrived," I thought, "but what else is going on here?"

We had already gathered from donors who regularly help us in this way, 253 backpacks, each carefully marked for an elementary, junior high, or high school child; but each day there were more names appearing on the list.

"I took backpacks to the new family in City Heights', reported Katherine.  "I wish you could have seen the proud look on the faces of the six members of that family who are of school age.  They each put on the right sized bag and paraded past me, showing it, as if it was a king's robe.   They could not have been happier."    The larger average family size now is a factor.  Then again, many children need a bigger pack and different supplies because they are moving up into a different school.  And there are also back packs that become soiled or torn and have to be discarded.  And few refugee families can find the money for the costs involved.

Here we are at the end of January, and we had to gather another 264 packs beyond the original 253, plus the 7 that were requested by women going to English classes and to other learning experiences.  Special thanks is due to the local donors who willingly scoured the shops for rapidly disappearing backpacks, in order to make sure the children and some of their mothers could join their classes looking like real students.  And thanks to all of you who make it possible for staff to make those lists and deliver the appropriate backpacks. 

"I have never been to school before", confided one high-schooler. "Now I have the same things that other kids have.  It makes me feel not so scared."   What an important step towards his future success!

choosing the right one
choosing the right one
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Organization Information

Episcopal Refugee Network of San Diego

Location: San Diego, California - USA
Episcopal Refugee Network of San Diego
Elaine  McLevie
Project Leader:
Elaine McLevie
Carlsbad, CA United States

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