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Dear PRSG Family,
Happy Independence Day! We hope you are all able to stay cool after this record-breaking heat wave and are safe. As we celebrate our independence, let us not forget those who gave their lives for the freedoms that we enjoy but also recognize the true owners of the land we call America. According to the city of Portland, The greater Portland Metro area, and many other inhabited areas around Oregon rests on traditional village sites of the Multnomah, Wasco, Cowlitz, Kathlamet, Clackamas, Bands of Chinook, Tualatin, Kalapuya, Molalla, and many other tribes who lived along the Columbia River.” PRSG wants to acknowledge and honor all Indigenous communities and support all efforts to help indigenous communities thrive. To learn more about the lands that once belonged to these Native American tribes, visit https://native-land.ca/
PRSG is also proud to help our clients celebrate the 4th of July in any way we can while respecting the beliefs and wishes of our clients and keeping them safe. Please be aware that many refugees suffer from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and can become triggered by hearing fireworks go off. Please make sure to reach out to your families and friends and explain the concept of fireworks and what to expect. Although Oregon has banned the use of many fireworks, we know that many people will ignore the ruling and still use them. Please be safe.
We are also happy to share that PRSG was there for the families who struggled with the heatwave and had no source to help them cool down. We supplied eight families with air-conditioning units and fans thanks to the generosity of our community. In addition, we spent over $10,000 on direct assistance for families who were struggling to pay for food, rent and utilities. As always, thank you to all who helped keep refugee families safe and secure.
We are also very proud to say that PRSG helped more than 120 people get fully vaccinated and we will continue to promote the COVID vaccine so that we can all be safe. Finally, we are super excited to share that PRSG was awarded a generous grant from the Oregon Community Foundation to offer summer programing for refugee and immigrant youth in our community; Camp Silah, Camp Mahara and the Beyond Reading Program. We are excited to start and hope you will continue to support us in these efforts by volunteering or donating.
As always, thank you for your continued support!
COVID-19 News and Resources
Updates to County Risk Levels
As of May 26th 2021, Oregon reported 399 new cases and 11 new deaths. Check out Governor Brown's new "Take your shot" Vaccination Campaign and how you could possibly win $1,000,000 from the state and the Oregon Lottery for getting vaccinated.
The new updated risk levels take effect today, May 27th. Multnomah County is now approved to move to the Lower Risk category - Click here for the full news release.
Updated Guidance for Lower Risk Levels - Governor Brown announced that businesses in Lower Risk counties will soon have the option of creating vaccinated sections. Businesses will be able to take advantage of this option right away. Additional details will be posted on the OHA website.
Oregon has announced that it will be following the new CDC Masking Guidance for Fully Vaccinated People
1. Fully vaccinated people can be unmasked indoors or outdoors under new Oregon guidance
2. Everyone MUST continue to wear a mask in:
Rental Assistance and Moratorium
The new Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance Program (OERAP) sponsored by the federal government, is now open to qualified renters who have experienced financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic and are at risk of homelessness or housing instability. Tenants may apply regardless of citizenship or immigration status. Approval of rental assistance will not impact eligibility for any benefits such as SNAP, Medicaid, Social Security or housing. The funds are NOT first come first serve and are prioritized based on need. To learn more and apply, CLICK HERE or email the COVID-19 EOC Affordable Housing Liaison at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Governor Kate Brown has signed Senate Bill 282 into law, a bill that extends the repayment period for residential rent accrued during the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill gives renters until February 28, 2022 to repay all rent accrued between April 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021. Oregon’s residential eviction moratorium remains in effect through July 30, 2021. For other housing news, including new low-income housing options, visit the Oregon Housing Authority website here.
PRSG has decided to have its first in-person potluck event in September. More to come about location and time.
Circus and Vaccine Awareness Event
We are bringing the circus to town! PRSG families and volunteers are invited to attend a free circus show presented by Bellingham Circus Guild and Lookout Arts Quarry on August 3rd at Beaverton 4Square Church. All are welcome to attend but seating is limited. We will be offering food and drinks and there will be vaccine experts on site to help answer any of your questions. Please stay tuned for more information about how to register.
Camp Silah will be August 20th-23rd. All preparations have been made and we can’t wait to share all of the adventures we have with the kids.
Skills Camp – Camp Mahara
Dr. Omar Reda will be heading a 3-day skills camp called Camp Mahara on July 9th, 10th and 11th for refugee and immigrant kids and guide participants in learning tools and skills to help them through this pandemic and life. Camp will be held at a horse sanctuary and kids will get the opportunity to learn about how to care for and ride horses.
Our wonderful Education Chair Megan French will be heading a six-week reading program from July 19th to August 30th. Each student will receive a fun activity pack which includes books, art supplies, and activities that go alongside the books that will be covered over the six weeks. At the end of the program, each child will receive a certificate, a choice of a book series or magazine subscription and will be invited to attend a fieldtrip.
How You Can Help!
Thank you to all of our donors. Your generosity is what keeps us going. If you have fundraising ideas or would like to host a goods donation drive, we would love to hear from you. Send an email to email@example.com with your ideas. If you would like to make a monetary donation, please use Donations - PORTLAND REFUGEE SUPPORT GROUP (pdxrsg.org).
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. We hope to have regular meetings and trainings again soon. Please do not forget to check in regularly with your clients to make sure they have no emergency needs.
Thank you to all the volunteers who helped at the vaccine events. We couldn’t have pulled them off without you!
If you were to look up the definition of reliable and hardworking but also fun and laid back in the dictionary, you would find a picture of this month’s spotlighted volunteer, Basil Abu-Hamdeh. Basil has been working with PRSG for over three years now and is a very important piece of the PRSG puzzle. He tells us that he joined PRSG in February of 2018 because, at the time, there was a growing influx of refugees in the Portland area and resources were scarce to sustain the growing population. Basil says he has a passion for helping others, especially the youth, and wanted to contribute to the organization as soon as he could.
He learned about PRSG through his mother-in-law, who is a Board Member and one of the founders of the organization (no pressure there 😉) and wanted to join and help in any capacity. Basil immediately got involved with many of the programs. He started as a counselor and mentor at Camp Silah and was a huge favorite with the kids. Soon after, Basil became assistant coordinator of the PRSG community wellness program alongside Dr. Omar Reda, which includes the monthly potlucks. During these events, he has gotten to know many of our families which has helped him learn more about the refugee crisis through the stories shared by our clients.
Basil says, “You hear stories of hardship through others, but you never really understand it until you hear it first-hand. Working with the youth has opened my eyes to these struggles and has made me realize how real these experiences are.” Basil tells us that his favorite part of working with PRSG is being able to meet so many wonderful people and connect with them socially. When asked about some of his favorite experiences, Basil added, “One of my favorite experiences was being a camp counselor at Camp Silah. What was so inspiring was seeing how well the program worked, since no one was able to tell a refugee from a non-refugee. This was one of the most powerful experiences I've had being a part of the organization.”
On a personal note, Basil is originally from Palestine, and is the youngest of 8 children! He graduated from Portland State University in 2018 with a degree in Psychology. He currently works at Nike HQ as a Supply Chain Business Testing Analyst. He has many passions including spending time with his beautiful wife Jumanah, who is also a PRSG volunteer, hanging out with his family, playing with his cats, dabbling in the stock market, playing soccer and mentoring youth. He also enjoys fun outdoor activities like skiing and stand-up paddle boarding. He also shares that he is naturally an introvert, so he enjoys reading and spending a lot of his time learning about investing/finances and finding ways to grow in all aspects of life. Moreover, Basil wanted to share that he is a coffee connoisseur and foodie! He loves anything his mom makes and is a huge fan of Thai, Indian, Persian & Mexican food. The best part about getting to learn more about Basil is that he says he hopes to stay with PRSG “FOREVER!” and that he wishes he had more time to help. We love that enthusiasm! Thank you, Basil, for your commitment to PRSG and we look forward to working with you forever.
South Sudan – Population 11.06 million
South Sudan is a beautiful country located in east/central Africa that was part of Sudan until 2011. It is a landlocked country bordered by Ethiopia to the east, by Sudan to the north, to the west by the Central African Republic, to the southwest by Democratic Republic of the Congo, to the south by Uganda and to the southeast by Kenya. With one of the youngest populations in the world (half its population is under the age of 18) South Sudan is made up mostly of Nilotic peoples, with most of South Sudan’s inhabitants adhere to Christianity, Islam and other various Indigenous faiths.
On July 9th, 2011, the U.S. and many other nations recognized South Sudan as a sovereign country following its secession from Sudan. This helped South Sudan in many ways, but in 2013 a brutal civil conflict erupted that led to more than four million people having to flee their homes and over seven million (more than half of the population) in need of acute humanitarian aid. Conflicts related to demarcation of the border, human rights violations, the status of the Abyei region, and unprecedented levels of violence against women continue to ravage the county with no clear end in sight.
According to a report by the BBC, South Sudan is one of the most diverse countries in Africa. It is home to more than 60 different major ethnic groups, and most of its people follow traditional religions (BBC). South Sudan's culture has been extensively influenced by its neighbors due to the long civil war. Many South Sudanese refugees sought refuge in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda, where they interacted with locals and learnt their languages and cultures. The majority of individuals who stayed in the nation or fled north to Sudan and Egypt adopted Arab culture to a great extent. Even in exile and diaspora, most South Sudanese cherish knowing their tribal origins, traditional culture, and dialect. Although Juba Arabic and English are the most widely spoken languages, Swahili is being introduced to the population in order to better the country's relations with its East African neighbors.
South Sudan has a rich history of music, beautiful clothing and delicious cuisine. Many South Sudanese musicians sing in English, Swahili, Juba Arabic, their native tongue, or a combination of these languages. Barbz, Yaba Angelosi, and De Peace Child sing Afro-beat, R&B, and Zouk and Dynamq's reggae recordings are well-known. In terms of clothing, South Sudan is vast with significant Islamic and Christian roots. Local people's religions and beliefs have a significant impact on Sudanese national attire. Additionally, as climate conditions change, Sudanese people dress in loose-fitting long robes that cover the majority of their bodies for these reasons. Light natural fabrics are used to make these dresses and robes. Headgears may be worn for religious reasons as well as sun protection. Sudanese women may also wear Western-style clothes; however, they are less common than traditional ones.
As for food, examples of traditional South Sudanese food that emerged from various tribes and influenced the traditional cuisine of the South Sudanese are: Janga janga or Jambala which is a mixture of pounded soya beans and cooked with greens like lady finger, Yure yure which is a mixture of daga fish and Sim sim or G.nut Paste, Cabbage dish which is made purely from the cabbage plant, and Dugbo which is purely the makeup of big beans. Much of this cuisine was influenced by Arab culture. To learn more about food from South Sudan and its culture, click here. If you would like to try this delicious food locally, check out Hayat located in Beaverton!
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
Our email list is a great way for you to stay up to date on important PRSG news. If you aren’t receiving emails from us and would like to in the future, please send an email to Yasser@pdxrsg.org or use our contact link on our website.
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