Most cultures have a set pattern of greeting such as, "Hello James. How are you?" "Fine thank you. How about you?" Neither person expects a long list of ailments in reply - it is simply an expression of pleasure in meeting. Many of our refugee families come from cultures which go a step further. For them, it is important to appear to be doing very well in all respects. They are expected never to reveal failing health, or intense hunger, or any family adversities. It would be a sign of personal weakness, or failure, to ask for help. So problems with these families can easily escalate, until finding a solution is much more difficult than it could have been, if they had been known earlier For example, if the breadwinner has lost his job, and cannot produce the monthly payment on a car, it is often long after the car has been reposessed, that someone who could have helped, finds out. The refugee loses all he has invested in the car, when it could have been sold, and some of the money kept by the refugee.
Having staff who know the languages and understand the cultures, is critical. Helping volunteers understand the different cultural orientations of each group is also essential. Our paid staff, who arrived as refugees themselves, are the ramp up to the bridge to self reliance. They can remember the things they, themselves, found puzzling and they still share some of the difficulties our newer arrivals face. They are also an important piece of reinforcement for the bridge, by providing information to the volunteers, about why some approaches and solutions will work better than others. As the staff members obtain effective skills in communicating in English, they become confident in being able to function, not only in their own original community, but also in the new society in which they find themselves, as well as in the other communities of refugees, as each wave of newcomers arrives.
Most refugees would consider it very rude to write down a list of things they would like to receive. But most volunteers do not have time to visit for enough time with each family to observe what was missing in each household, so they expect a list.
If a volunteer, with the help of a staff member, can spend enough time getting to know each family to gain its confidence, then the family can learn that a list is not rude in the US as long as the items are requests, not demands. The volunteer can also learn to bring appropriate items and to find ways to build relationships that make it possible for many families to be served in a timely way that does not appear rude or inconsiderate to any group.
The success the Network has had in helping refugee families and individuals address the difficulties they encounter, and develop the skills needed to become self sufficient is becoming known more widely. The current economic climate in San Diego, California, has brought a greater number of needy families to our doors than in previous years. It will be challenging.
Thank you to those who have found us and recommended us to your friends, families, and colleagues. We look forward to your help in drawing their attention to the great opportunity provided by GlobalGiving with their Matching Grant day in the 24 hours starting at 12 01a.m. on Wednesday October 19, EDT (GMT-4) Please let them know that the 30% match while funds last, can be make a significant difference in the lives of struggling refugees. To receive that match the donation must be made via GlobalGiving's secure web site. We would love to win the extra $1,000.00 awarded to the project with the most individual donors, on that day. Please tell them that donations from members of the same family will count as from different individual donors, as long as each donor uses a different credit card. One way of their learning more about us is to reach GlobalGiving website through our website at episcopalrefugeenetwork.org. Just click on Sponsors and Donors, then click on the symbol for GlobalGiving. Make a note of the date and time - it is very close at hand. Many Thanks.