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Happy April PRSG Family!
Welcome to the month of grow and rebirth! Looking around we cannot help feeling a sense of hope as the landscape bursts with color and life. As COVID restrictions begin to ease, PRSG has begun planning how to transition back into in-person activities, supporting our clients with even more programming, and preparing for new arrivals that should be entering into America soon. We know with your support we will be ready.
We would like to wish all our Muslim clients a Happy Ramadan this year. Ramadan 2021 will begin April 12th or 13th depending on the sighting of the new moon. PRSG is honored to help support these families during this holy month by hosting an Event on April 17th in partnership with Neveh Shalom and Beaverton Foursquare Church. PRSG is blessed to have such wonderful partners who continue to work hard to help our newest neighbors acclimate to life in America. Check out the upcoming events section for more details about this event and how you can help support it.
PRSG would also like to declare that the violence against our Asian brothers and sisters will never be tolerated and we stand in solidarity with the Asian community as they continue to experience anti-hate crimes. Our condolences go out to all the families who have suffered in the name of hate. Our world has no place for bigotry and discrimination. If you believe you are the victim of a hate crime or believe you witnessed a hate crime: Report the crime to your local police and quickly follow up this report with a tip to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). For more information about how to contact the FBI, visit the Department of Justice website.
Lastly, we want to thank Sunset High School for holding a goods drive for us this month! Their support is invaluable to our families and highly appreciated and all the donated goods will be shared with our refugee families at the April 17th event.
As always, thank you for your continued support!
How You Can Help!
Thank you to all of our donors. Your generosity is what keeps us going. Of course, it is not all about money. We are always looking for new volunteers to fulfill many of the roles we have at PRSG. To apply, check out our website and fill out the application.
If you have fundraising ideas or would like to host a goods donations drive, we would love to hear from you. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your ideas. If you would like to make monetary donations, please use Donations - PORTLAND REFUGEE SUPPORT GROUP (pdxrsg.org).
COVID Cases Update
County Risk Status. Effective March 26-April 8, Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas Counties will remain at Moderate Risk. A complete list of counties and their associated risk levels is available HERE. View the Sector Risk Level Guidance Chart.
The state of Oregon has seen a slight increase in COVID cases in the past two weeks in Multnomah County. There have been sharper increases in COVID cases in other states that have loosened restrictions. It is still important for us to maintain good public health practices as we continue to get our community vaccinated, including physical distancing, wearing masks, and washing our hands. Please work with your refugee families to make sure they are aware of current vaccine events and policies. PRSG is planning a vaccine event for our clients and other refugees in the community. We will share more information about this soon. For more information about who is currently eligible to take the and where you can get vaccinated, click on this link to learn more.
Vaccine Questions? If you have questions about the vaccine, reach out directly. Here are several ways to get your questions answered.
In early April, FEMA will begin providing financial assistance for funeral expenses incurred after Jan. 20, 2020 for deaths related to coronavirus (COVID-19) to help ease some of the financial stress and burden caused by the pandemic. The policy was finalized today, and FEMA is now moving rapidly to implement this funeral assistance program nationwide.
To be eligible for COVID-19 funeral assistance, please refer to the policy and information here. Please share this information with your networks as this program can help many of the people we support across our regions.
We want to share important news about Oregon's law protecting tenants from eviction during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to state law, renters in Oregon are protected from evictions for nonpayment of rent until July 1st, 2021. To be protected, you must give your landlord a form called a "declaration of financial hardship" letting them know that you are unable to pay your rent for reasons related to the pandemic.
As 2021 continues to move forward, please do not forget to visit our website for all up to date resources and important information to best help our clients. If you are a core volunteer, you will soon be receiving a link for the Client Survey to share with the family you are supporting. Please take the time to work with your refugee family to fill this out completely as it will help us to better serve them. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to our office manager at Yasser@pdxrsg.org. As always, be safe and do not forget to check in regularly with your clients to make sure they have no emergency needs. Also, we are happy to welcome back Tahia Abdulrahman to PRSG after some time off. She will be starting up volunteer trainings once again. If you are interested in any training opportunities, please reach out to Tahia at Tahia@pdxrsg.org.
Resources and Upcoming Events
Rent Moratorium: The new deadline to complete the eviction hardship form is June 30, 2021. We have already had to address many eviction notices. Landlords have the right to send eviction notices but do not have the right to evict anyone if you submit the hardship form. This is why it is imperative that tenants submit a written declaration of financial hardship to their landlord using this form: Declaration of Financial Hardship for Eviction Protection ASAP. If you are a refugee client or know of one that is facing eviction, please reach out to us immediately.
April 17th Refugee Event
PRSG is excited to work with our friends at Beaverton Foursquare Church and Neveh Shalom to host a refugee vaccine education/resource giveaway on April 17th from 1-4pm at Beaverton Foursquare Church. We will be giving away gift cards, PPE, household goods, halal and kosher meat, culturally appropriate food boxes, clothing, toys and so much more. Please look out for the advertisement for this event which will be sent out soon.
Driver License, Vehicle Tag Grace Period Extended into 2021.
If your driver license, permit, or vehicle registration expires between Nov 1, 2020, and April 30, 2021, you have three months after the expiration date to renew without being cited. DMV offices are open by appointment. Visit www.oregondmv.com for a list of services available by office. Some services are available online at www.dmv2u.oregon.gov.
If you have ever wondered what a super volunteer looks like, look no further than our very own Cheri Smith! Cheri has been one of PRSG’s most amazing and dedicated volunteers over the last four years. She has single handedly helped multiple families acclimate to life in America with her patience, kindness, and love. Cheri wanted to be a force for good in the world and destiny lead her to us. In October of 2016 Cheri was heartbroken about the stories of refugees fleeing to Greece by sea and was looking for some way she could help. She was not able to go to Lesbos to help in person. That is when volunteer Nat Hulskamp told Cheri about PRSG.
Currently, Cheri is a core volunteer for two families (she had to cut back from 5), and a support person for other families and new volunteers. She also works on the team distributing household supplies, helps organize the refugee bake sales, and is part of the Client Census team. Cheri says that PRSG has changed her understanding about refugees and the refugee crisis. Cheri stated, “Working with PRSG has given me more purpose in my retirement. I have learned so much about the resilience and determination of the refugees. My learning curve was ramped up as I guided them through all the US systems - immigration, housing, health care, schools, social services, transportation, etc. Also, working with my families, PRSG volunteers, and other new Portlanders to build community.” She loves the relationships she is building and learning about different cultures as she helps the refugees acclimate to life in America.
Cheri has had many success stories including one of the first families she worked with at PRSG. Cheri says that it has been wonderful to support her family, with a father in a wheelchair and a mother who has learned to drive, learned English, and started her own business to support her family. In addition, Cheri has helped the children who are now doing so well in school after arriving shy and traumatized. They have learned English, and are maintaining their native Arabic, as well. The family is almost ready to move into their Habitat for Humanity home after saving the down payment and putting in a lot of sweat equity to earn it. We are proud of this family and amazed at Cheri for her dedication to them.
On a personal note, Cheri has a BA in Humanities from Willamette University. She is a textile artist and retired graphic designer. She is the youngest of 5 siblings and has three daughters, 1 granddaughter, 3 grandsons, and a few pets; Jim the dog and George the cat. Cheri recently sold her house and moved in with her daughter’s family. After the recent loss of her mother, Cheri has been helping her siblings manage their mother’s estate. In her free time, Cheri enjoys reading, quilting, and water aerobics. She is a huge fan of Syrian food, sushi, dry martinis, and Netflix. She is also very well-traveled visiting places all over the world including Russia, Madagascar, Egypt, Belize, Mexico, and Hawaii, which she hopes to visit again one day. In the meantime, when looking to change scenery, Cheri enjoys camping and beach trips. Cheri has become such a vital part of PRSG; we cannot imagine PRSG without her. When asked how long she will stay with us, she replied, “As long as I’m able. My client families have become “family”. I am known as Mama Cheri or Grandma.” We hope to keep Mama Cheri with PRSG for a long time to come. She is a treasure trove of knowledge and experience and we are blessed to have her part of our team. We love you Cheri!
Bosnia – Population 3.3 Million
Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) is a beautiful country located in the western Balkans, bordering the Adriatic Sea, Croatia, Montenegro, and Serbia. The country declared its independence from the former federation of Yugoslavia in March 1992. The country’s capital and largest city is Sarajevo. The country is home to three main ethnic groups, Bosnians are the largest group, second are Serbs and Croats third. The official languages of B&H are Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian.
As a result of the disintegration of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, Eastern Europe experienced a sudden wave of mass displacement and migration. In 1992, Bosnia and Herzegovina became involved in the Bosnian War. The war's effects were widespread, and they continue to have ramifications today, especially as the Balkan region is drawn into Europe's migrant exodus.
The delicate balance of power collapsed in the rush to gain Bosnian territory. Bosnian Serbs wished for Bosnia to be included in a Greater Serbia. Non-Serbs, such as Bosnian Croats and Muslims, demanded Bosnian independence soon after. Ethnic tensions quickly deteriorated, especially after the siege of Sarajevo. Radovan Karadzic, the President of Republika Srpska, started systematic ethnic cleansing campaigns in the pursuit of a Greater Serbia. This led to millions of Bosnians fleeing the region in one of the worst cases of ethnic cleansing in world history. According to the UNHCR, 2.3 million people left their homes because of Yugoslavia's six republics crumbling between 1989 and 1992. The Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina contributed 600,000 people to this amount. Radovan Karadzic was eventually convicted of crimes against humanity in March 2016 for his part in the genocide of 7,500 Muslim Bosnians in the Srebrenica enclave, as well as ethnic group oppression. Before appearing before the United Nations International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, he had spent 13 years in hiding (ICTY).
Following the war, B&H began rebuilding the country while preserving its rich history and culture was a priority. The culture of Bosnia and Herzegovina is strongly influenced by its rich history. The country's cultural diversity is at its very heart. Despite their religious differences, Jews, Albanians, Romanians, and Turks coexist peacefully with other ethnic groups. Their diversity is also evident in their religious and cultural festivities, music, art, and cuisine. In the country's art and architecture, there is a significant religious influence. Medieval tombstones dating back to the Bosnian Kingdom are among its many attractions. Various religious symbols of biblical research and saints associated with Catholic and Orthodox churches, synagogues, and mosques are depicted in early church paintings and carved panels.
The cuisine of Bosnia and Herzegovina is a mix of Western and Eastern influences. Bosnian cuisine is influenced by Turkish, Mediterranean, and other Balkan cuisines, as well as Central European influences. For hundreds of years, the same recipes have been used to prepare many of the popular dishes, including ćevapi, burek, grah, sarma, pilav, gulaš (goulash), ajvar and a whole range of Eastern sweets. To learn more about Bosnian cuisine and where to eat if you decide to visit B&H, check out this website. Locally, the nearest restaurant to serve authentic Bosnian cuisine is Bosnia Restaurant in Vancouver WA. Visit their Facebook page here for more information.
Traditional Bosnian clothing is usually hand made with brightly colored wool, linen, hemp, and leather. Men usually wear a white shirt, baggy trousers, a small waistcoat, a large belt, and a headdress (usually a fez). In addition, hand-knit gloves, and leather shoes are often included. The women’s apparel includes a white shirt, a skirt and apron or wide baggy trousers, a bodice or vest, a headdress (a fez with a veil or some other variant), jewelry, hand-knit socks, and leather shoes. The clothing differs depending on the different regions of B&H; Dinaric costumes (western part of the country); Central Bosnian costumes (central and eastern regions); and costumes of Posavina region (northern part of Bosnia and Herzegovina).
Website – www.pdxrsg.org
Information – Admin@pdxrsg.org
President – Nura@pdxrsg.org
Vice President – Jenny@pdxrsg.org
Treasurer – Eva@pdxrsg.org
Programming – Tahia@pdxrsg.org
Head of Refugee Affairs – Fatein@pdxrsg.org
Office Manager – Yasser@pdxrsg.org
Tutoring and Educational Services - Education@pdxrsg.org
Events – Social@pdxrsg.org
Goods Donations – Donations@pdxrsg.org
Office & Mailing Address - 10175 SW Barbur Blvd #102B, Portland, OR 97219
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