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Dear PRSG Family,
How quickly time flies! It is officially June, and we cannot wait for the Summer to begin. As kids wrap up the school year and we look forward to the sun and all the fun the outdoors can bring, PRSG will be hard at work for the families that we serve. Although we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel with regards to COVID, families are still struggling to catch up after this year of uncertainty. During the month of May, PRSG spent over $15,000 on direct assistance for families, many of which have been recovering from the Corona virus.
In addition, we are starting to see a slow influx of new refugee families entering the US. We have already welcomed two new families into the PRSG fold. As more families arrive, we hope to be there if and when they need our support. As always, we cannot do this work without all our wonderful donors, supporters and partners.
We have some big announcements as well. Starting June 1st, 2021, we will be welcoming two new board members to the team. Lisa Clark and Emmanuelle Jarmon. Both bring a wide range of experience and talent to help PRSG continue to grow in the right direction, and we are excited to see what the future brings. Welcome Lisa and Emmanuelle! We are also happy to announce a new partnership with the city of Portland and JVIC. Welcome to the PRSG circle of friends!
We are also super excited to announce that Camp Silah 2021 is on! Refugee kids aged 9-18 will enjoy the all-American camp experience while celebrating their own diverse and unique backgrounds and experiences. Camper safety remains our number one priority. We cannot wait for camp to start. In addition, we are hoping to offer even more summer programming for our kids and families. Stay tuned for more information.
Lastly, PRSG is so proud to have hosted two vaccine clinics in the month of May in which we helped nearly 130 people get vaccinated. Thank you so much to our partners Oregon Health Authority, Beaverton Four Square Church, Congregation Neveh Shalom and Bilal Masjid Association for helping to make these events a super success. Also, a huge thank you to Signature Healthcare for vaccinating all of the people who showed up. Second dose vaccines will be in June. Check out the upcoming events section for more info. If you need help getting vaccinated, please click here for more information.
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 June 30, 2021. For other housing news, including new low-income housing options, visit the Oregon Housing Authority website here.
PRSG is hoping to restart in person events as soon as July for the monthly psycho-social potlucks. As more Oregonians get vaccinated, we hope to start seeing a return to normal soon.
Camp Silah will be August 20th-23rd. We cannot wait for all the fun and adventures we will have with our campers. There will be no new registrations this year as the kids who were registered for last year’s camp will get priority. Stay tuned for more information to come.
Skill Building Camp
Dr. Omar Reda will be heading a 3-day skills camp this summer for kids focused on learning tools and skills to help them through this pandemic and life. Stay tuned for more information with regards to registration.
Beyond Reading Program
Our wonderful Education Chair Megan French is working hard on a summer reading program for our K-12 kids. We hope to launch two cohort groups, one in July and one in August. More information to come.
A second round of vaccines will be available on June 12th at Beaverton Four Square Church and on June 26th at Bilal Masjid Association. For questions or comments contact Nura Elmagbari at email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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!
One of the most energetic, optimistic and hardest working volunteers at PRSG is the amazing Kirsten Burt. Since the first day Kirsten joined PRSG back in 2017, Kirsten has been full of wonderful ideas and has never stopped working hard for our families. Her PRSG story began back in the Fall of 2016 when Kirsten became very troubled by the anti-immigrant rhetoric of Trump’s presidential campaign, and she wanted to find a way to make a difference in her community. As luck would have it, she heard about PRSG through a friend who was working with refugees in Greece and decided to join the organization. She quickly adapted to her volunteer role at PRSG eventually becoming the donations coordinator and core volunteer. In addition, she is an integral part of the bake sale team which works hard to make sure refugee women have an outlet to share their baking skills and make additional income for themselves and their families.
Kirsten says that PRSG has changed her understanding about refugees and the refugee crisis by learning a lot about the difficult process refugees go through to come to the US, and about how hard it is to start over in a new country where you don’t have family and don’t speak the language. Getting to know families who have been through so much trauma but have the strength to rebuild and care for each other and their communities just strengthens her belief that countries in the position to help need to step up and welcome refugees.
When asked what she loves the most about working with PRSG Kirsten said, “I love working directly with families and being able to see that I’m making a difference for someone. Also, eating amazing Syrian food. Kirsten adds that she is inspired by the strength and determination of the refugee women she has become friends with. She shares examples of a mom who learned English, learned to drive, started her own catering business and got her family into the Habitat for Humanity program so that they will soon be homeowners. She also shared the story of an amazing teenage girl who has overseen all of her family’s bills and paperwork on top of maintaining a 4.0 with a heavy load of math and science classes so she could get into college and pursue her dream of becoming a doctor to serve her community. How amazing is that!
When not changing the world, Kirsten keeps busy with her talented husband Mimy (check out his custom-made furniture here), her adorable boys Roy and Feno, as well as two pets, Jim the dog and George the cat. Kirsten says she is feeling hopeful about being vaccinated and getting to see friends again. Fun fact, Kirsten is the daughter of another PRSG super volunteer Cheri Smith. Cheri was featured in our April 2021 newsletter. In case you missed Cheri’s spotlight, check it out here!
Last but certainly not least, we asked Kirsten how long she plans on staying with PRSG. Kirsten’s response was heartwarming. She said, “I’ve been volunteering with PRSG for more than 4 years and don’t intend to stop anytime soon. I’ve built great relationships with other volunteers and with the refugee families that have befriended me.” PRSG can not ask for a better volunteer. We hope that Kirsten is with us for a very long time as she role models the true meaning of commitment, dedication and unconditional love. Thank you Kirsten for everything you do.
Palestine – Population 4.685 million
Palestine is a small piece of land that has played an important role in both the ancient and modern history of the Middle East. Due to Palestine’s importance to the world’s three major religions; Islam, Christianity and Judaism, Palestine has been home to many different and historically prominent societies for thousands of years. In addition, Palestine’s strategically important location between Africa and Asia makes it an ideal location for trade, travel and conquest. Because of this, Palestine’s history is marked by frequent political conflicts and violent land acquisitions usually in the name of religion. Having said this, prior to 1948, Christians, Muslims and Jews lived peacefully together, and Palestine was always able to thrive. An example of this harmony is the ruins of the Nativity Church and the Omar bin al-Khattab Mosque, both of which are located on the Manger Square in the center of Bethlehem. It wasn’t until more recent history that things have changed significantly for the country resulting in a modern-day refugee crisis in which over 5 million Palestinians have had to flee their homes or were expelled, with the majority leaving during the 1947–1949 Palestine war, the 1948 Palestinian exodus and the Six-Day War 1967 Palestinian exodus.
Today, Palestine is considered to include the West Bank (the territory between present-day Israel and Jordan) and the Gaza Strip, which borders present-day Israel and Egypt. However, the control of the region is a complex and constantly changing situation. There is no international consensus on the border issue, and many areas claimed by the Palestinians have been illegally occupied by the Israelis for many years. With regards to international recognition, the majority of the 135 member states of the United Nations recognize Palestine as an independent country, but Israel and some other countries, including the United States, do not make this distinction. Because of this lack of distinction, the Israeli government has taken liberty with adjusting laws to suit the constant flow of Israeli settlers entering the country.
Culturally speaking, the customs and conventions of the Palestinian people are very diverse and closely related to those of Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, and other countries in the Arab world. Palestinians are known for their hospitality, olive groves, delicious cuisine, beautiful textiles and art.
In terms of clothing and dress traditions, you can see a divide within three geographical regions. You will find that there is almost no embroidery on the national costumes of the people living in the plateau area, because the women there are busy in the fields and hardly have time to sew; on the other hand, in the cities that make up center Palestine, you will find very exquisite, embroidered clothing, because women there have more time to turn complex designs into traditional clothing. Finally, you will find that since Alexander the Great conquered the area in 332 B.C., the typical costumes of the coastal Palestinian people have been influenced by Greece for hundreds of years. Today, Palestinians can be seen wearing anything from a Thobe and Niqab to Western fashions like jeans and T-shirts. However, no matter what region you look at, almost every city, town, or village has its own pattern, color, embroidery technique, or cloth. Tazra or Tatriza is the traditional Palestinian embroidery, which can add a unique Palestinian style to any dress. Another very important piece of clothing in the Palestinian culture is the Kufiya which has become a symbol of resistance against occupation and oppression. For more information on Palestinian clothing, click here.
Lastly, you cannot speak about Palestine without mentioning it’s delicious cuisine. The foundation for much of the food found in Palestine is similar to other Arab countries in the region. Palestinian food is filled with freshly kneaded enriched breads, hand pressed olive oil, rich yogurt and creams, as well as fresh herbs and vegetables. From humus to grape leaves, Palestine is known for its deep and tangy flavors. For more information about Palestinian cuisine click here. If this image has you craving some Palestinian treats, you are in luck. Portland is full of several restaurants that serve these delicious foods.
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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