Bridge to Self Reliance 2000 refugees San Diego CA

by Episcopal Refugee Network of San Diego
Long Lost Father
Long Lost Father

We could hardly believe it was really happening.  He was actually here after years and years of waiting. I could not believe it until I could see him with my own eyes. The miles flew by but they seemed as if they would go on for ever. But then there we were, going through the security gate to the appartment complex, that had been propped open in expectation of our arrival.

The screen door to the apartment opened to my knock, and there he stood, uncertain, shy. For the longest few seconds time stood still, before the excitement burst out as our hands met, and we were enveloped in hugs from the whole family.

"Thank you, Thank you," he said, his eyes glistening. He had so much to tell us, but his English classes had barely begun. However, in no time at all we were deep in conversation with the help of his daughter-in-law as translator.  "I know you were working hard to find out why my paperwork was held up for so long", he said.  "It was so hard to be the only one in my family to be left behind in the refugee camp.  First my wife and our daughters left for San Diego. Two years later my son and his wife left to join them. But it took more than 5 more years for my permission to leave came.  It would have been even longer if you had not been writing and calling and speaking to people in this country and in Nepal, who could help me. That was what kept me believing I would soon be here."

His first grandchild, a mischievous two-year-old girl, had already won his heart, and he was happy and secure in the household with his extended family where he belongs. His son was eager to tell us about the classes he was taking to enable him to work in the construction of new buildings, and his plans to become a contractor with whom his father could work.  The  Network will continue to help, especially providing warm clothing for the father with winter on its way; and finding volunteers to provide language coaching for both father and son.  Because the sadness of the long separation is over, the energy released suddenly opens up all sorts of possibilities for this creative and courageous family.

 As you are part of our team, you are part of this joyous celebration, and of the huge difference we can make together, in many refugee lives.  Many thanks.

Always popular
Always popular

"We never get to eat bananas," the six-year old commented, looking longingly at the 29 skins discarded along the pathway the children had been using.

His mother held one banana saved for her husband, who was sick.  A fleeting smile slid across her face as the children checked once again, that there were no more hiding among the bags of school clothes they had carried in to the house, from the volunteer's car. 

"Let's see what fits," the mother suggested, and the fashion parade began.

As each child modelled a different outfit, the volunteer made herself a note, " Needs regular food delivery - add to list." That was a critical turning point for the family.

Today, ten years later, the three youngest of those seven children are now in jumior high, or high school school.  The four oldest have all graduated. Three of those four have gone on to a Community College, where one became a star football player and hopes to transfer to a university. The youngest of the four received a scholarship because of her excellent grades at high school, and is already doing well at university. 

The list is still in effect, changing from time to time as a family gains more work hours, or another  runs into a major difficulty. As one of its activities, every month the Network now delivers up to 2,000 pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables on each of eight days, to the homes of the most needy of our families. Each family on the list receives two deliveries per month, with particular ethnic groups targeted on each day. This allows us to collect food that is acceptable to each group and to introduce new foods from time to time. It also allows us to add eggs and milk and  provide household necessities; or to look at letters that need translating; or set up appointments those letters require, and provide transport and translation. This is often among the earliest steps towards self-sufficiency.

Your donations keep our truck on the road, and provide more of our most needy families with nutritious food.  Together we are building more healthy refugee families and more children alert and ready to learn.

One of our Sudanese Outreach Workers
One of our Sudanese Outreach Workers


"There are no services for me here?"  These were the words she would have cried out, if she had known enough English.  "Here is the name of a doctor in San Diego.  They have many more services there" , the doctor continued.

The young Sudanese lady was in her early twenties, and  she was eager to learn and to become part of the community, but she was too old for high school and would need considerable help with learning skills.   In her country of birth, she would have been kept secretly at home, and it seemed that she had met an insurmountable barrier to escaping from a similar fate in her new home.    But her mother was determined to give her daughter every chance of learning and developing her skills, and was eventually able to earn enough to pay their fares to San Diego.

Now mother and daughter needed to build a new life, but with no support system.  That is why they were referred to our organization.  They had to have both transportation and translation to be able to visit the 5 locations involved in having the daughter approved for assistance.   There were multiple visits, fees to be paid and many forms to execute. Without our outreach worker, there was no way they could navigate the system.   It took 4 weeks to complete the application process and another long wait for approval, but what a joy to see someone reaching her goal.  What an inspiration the mother was in being willing to step out into the unknown in order to give her daughter a chance.

Barely a week later a young Karen woman in her twenties and with similar learning challenges, arrived directly to San Diego.  Our Karen-speaking outreach worker set about guiding her through the same maze of offices and provided the translation, transport and encouragement that brought opportunities for the daughter and satisfaction to her family members.  

Your help in providing funds to support services like these brings about miracles, not only for the individuals but for the communities in which they live.   Because so many of our clients come directly from war torn countries, you create transformations that provide hope and orientation to a future in which each can contribute.  That is awesome! 

Please remember to tell your friends and relatives about The Refugee Network of San Diego, now commonly referred to as "RefugeeNet".   We would like your friends to be our friends.   


One of our Karen Outreach Workers
One of our Karen Outreach Workers
Darfuri refugee
Darfuri refugee

We are thrilled to be able to report that our project, "Bridge to Self-Reliance, 2000 refugees in San Diego, CA." has been chosen as Global Giving's Project of the Month for January, 2015.  It is a great honor to be recognized in this way, for our work with refugees, with needs both basic and complex.  This could not have happened without your help in bringing us into the lime-light.  You showed you believed in the value of what we were doing, by your spectacular support in two end of year campaigns.  That was tremendous.

In November and December we received 10 new families from Southern Sudan, Bhutan, Myanmar and Darfur. Half of those families are large, so our stock of donated blankets, sheets, large cooking pots and school clothes flew off the shelves. More have been requested, and continue to arrive.

At our Board retreat in early February,  what a boost of energy we will receive from the funding that the Project of the Month Club raises for us in January in addition to the over $4,000 you provided in end-of-year donations.  These two sources will make it possible for us to plan to serve many more this year, who need a hand-up and encouragement.  What a wonderful way to start a New Year!

Bhutanese refugee and her granddaughter
Bhutanese refugee and her granddaughter
Karen mother and child
Karen mother and child
Refugees from South Sudan
Refugees from South Sudan
Board meeting with staff
Board meeting with staff

Each year the Board of Directors of the Episcopal Refugee Network of San Diego reviews what objectives we have met in the previous year, and what we have achieved.  Our most urgent need in the past two years has been to raise the funds to employ two more refugee workers who speak one or more of the languages of the most recent arrivals. 

The need for the services we provide has continued to increase, but our fundraising methods have not changed as much as we had planned.  We set out to remedy that two years ago, and signed up for our first bonus day effort being run by Global Giving.   We advised our donors well in advance and stirred up support, including arranging for three particular donors to be ready to donate at the earliest time possible.  We arranged for our website to carry the information about how to donate via Global Giving, by sending very specific information to our web master, and we had in place a telephone list to urge our supporters on.

Imagine our puzzlement when no donations early in the process appeared.  Then we received a message from our accountant to say thay we had received several donations from our home web page. We checked and found a small error, which was intended to help donors, but which rerouted them.   By this time it was well after mid-day and we had lost the very impetus we thought we had planned for so carefully.

Why hadn't we checked our web site well in advance of the day?   We had lost sight of one very small detail, because we did not think of it. We had, on previous occasions when we were using an unfamiliar process, made sure that the system worked, by havinging one of us donate first, in case of surprises.   We now know that every little piece of preparation needs to be checked off and tested, and a list for that purpose now has much more on it that we just might forget!

As we are a very largely volunteer organization, and rely entirely on donations and grants, we appreciate our being a partner with Global Giving, and value the generosity of you, our donors. Please tell us what you like about our reports and what you would like to know about, that you have not seen in them.   We will not be participating in the upcoming bonus day, but please look for us in the end of year giving, in December.


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Organization Information

Episcopal Refugee Network of San Diego

Location: San Diego, California - USA
Website: http:/​/​​links.htm
Project Leader:
Elaine McLevie
Encinitas, CA United States
$36,068 raised of $80,000 goal
264 donations
$43,932 to go
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