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Dear PRSG Family,
As the daylight becomes shorter and the cool showers settle in, may we take a pause from our busy days and reflect on all we have been through, and all there is to be grateful for. PRSG has much to be grateful for – this year we have been able to financially help dozens of families through the COVID crisis, we held immunization events for hundreds of clients, we received a grant to provide psycho-social camps and education opportunities for our youth, we began expanding and deepening our programing by working with new partner organizations, we bought a cargo van, we hosted bake sales and donations drives which directly helped families, and much more. We have grown in so many ways and have been able to hire staff. These are all achievements which we are grateful for, but there is nothing that we are more grateful for than our volunteers. Without each of us doing a small part, none of this would be possible.
As of November 1st, after a six-plus weeklong nation-wide search, we have hired a new Executive Director. Peter Newbegin has spent much of his career working in nonprofits with refugees and in educational programs. He brings a wide breadth of managerial, fundraising, and program development and implementation experience. We’re thrilled he accepted the position and invite you all to learn more about him below in our Volunteer Highlight section. As always, our open door policy remains in place for everyone. Please feel free to reach out to Peter at any time. We are excited for everyone to get to know him.
This past year the board has been busy vetting partner organizations and programs that will directly help client families. We are currently partnered with the Prosperity Agenda to develop a financial wellness program for clients. We are also working with EMPath to develop a holistic model for families to reach self-sufficiency. Finally, we have been working with Citizenship Works to understand how they can help clients with their applications for U.S. citizenship. These are actively in the works, and we hope to provide more information about them in 2022.
There are so many things to be grateful for this year, and your continued support is one of them. You can continue to help us grow and offer much needed services for refugees by donating here.
As always, thank you for your continued support!
COVID-19 News and Resources
Thankfully, the number of COVID cases continues to decline in Oregon with a positive test rate now below 6%. Over 80% of residents in Multnomah County have had at least 1 dose of the vaccine, followed by Washington County with over 75% of residents, and Clackamas County at over 68% of residents. Oregon remains under a mask mandate for indoors and outdoors where social distancing is not possible. Staying at home whenever possible is encouraged.
The CDC has made several important steps to progress our fight against COVID. These include expanding the groups who qualify for booster shots and approving the Pfizer-BioNTech pediatric COVID-vaccination series for children 5 to 11 years old. Children will be vaccinated with 1/3 the dose given to adults and adolescents.
The following individuals are now eligible for the booster shot if they received the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine series at least 6 months ago:
• 65 years and older
• Age 18+ who live in long-term care settings
• Age 18+ who have underlying medical conditions
• Age 18+ who work or live in high-risk settings
If you or your child meet these criteria and are interested in getting vaccinated or receiving a booster shot, contact your healthcare provider, local pharmacy, or call 2-1-1.
Unvaccinated people are at highest risk of serious infection, hospitalization, and death. The best way to protect yourself is to get vaccinated. Vaccines are free and available on a walk-in basis at pharmacies like Walgreens, Rite Aid and CVS. If you are interested in getting vaccinated, click the following link for information on vaccine sites near you. Multnomah county is still offering gift card incentives for those getting vaccinated. Click HERE for more information and a list of participating locations.
Thanksgiving Dinner Drive
We have partnered with 4-Square Church and will be offering staple foods to 60 families this Thanksgiving. If your client family would like to receive a box, please email Fatein Mahmoud at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to donate to this event, please do so via the PRSG website.
Clothing Drive for Afghan Parolees
We have partnered with Muslimahs United to collect new and like-new items, including winter clothing, for the Afghan parolees. These items will be distributed through Catholic Charities. Due to the amount of goods requested, we need to rent a storage unit. If you would like to donate to this cause, please do so via the PRSG website. Alternatively, if you have clothing to donate, please contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Angela Swan, at email@example.com.
Keep your calendars marked for our virtual bake sale on Sunday, December 5th. You’ll get to enjoy homemade goodies made by our clients using recipes from their native countries. Plus, all proceeds go directly to the clients. Please place your order here until Friday, December 3rd at 3pm.
Want to get a refresher on your training? Still need to go through training? We welcome all volunteers to attend the highly reviewed training hosted by Angela Swan, our Volunteer Coordinator. Please email Angela at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to sign-up or learn more information.
Holiday Market at the Rosewood Initiative
The Rosewood Initiative is hosting an intimate Holiday Market on Saturday, December 11th from 12 pm - 3 pm. We are planning to host a PRSG table for clients to sell their goods. If your client would like to join this event, please email our Volunteer Coordinator, Angela Swan, at email@example.com. We hope to see you all there.
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).
We continue to seek volunteers who are interested in becoming core volunteers. These volunteers work directly with refugee families and help them navigate their adjustment to life in the US. While this role takes a lot of time and dedication, it can be incredibly rewarding, forming life-long memories and relationships.
Additionally, to support the recently resettled Afghan parolees, we are seeking volunteers who can communicate in Dari.
If you or anyone you know would like to volunteer time for these roles, please email our Volunteer Coordinator, Angela Swan, at email@example.com.
Highlights – Rosewood Saturday Celebrations
College and Career Program
PRSG has partnered with the International Student Services Association (ISSA). They provide counseling services, college and career readiness workshops, and help students create portfolios for college applications for international, immigrant, and refugee high school students. They offer remote coursework for students making their programming highly accessible.
Our high school students participated in their first workshop at the end of October. The series of classes hosted are called the Passion Project. Here, students have started to explore and discover their passions to help them identify careers they will enjoy.
There is still time for more students to sign up. If your family has a high school student that has not signed up, please reach out to our Education Coordinator, Megan French, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are honored to introduce everyone to our new Executive Director, Peter Newbegin. After an extended search, Peter rose to the top for his dedication to both refugees and education paired with his level-headed and holistic view of problems, and ease of conversation. Peter says that “working with refugees, alongside those who believe a better world is possible, has taught me the resilience of the human spirit and the power of collective action toward building a more just and inclusive society.”
Prior to joining PRSG, Peter worked at United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona as an Associate Vice President of Community Development working on the Cradle to Career partnership. In this program, he worked on improving the educational outcomes for every child – from kindergarten readiness to career attainment.
But even while working with education, Peter reiterates that creating welcoming communities for refugees remained at the core of his passions. This was ignited many years ago when he met a resettled refugee from Burma in Oakland, CA while waiting for the bus. Through him, Peter learned about the International Rescue Committee, where he soon began volunteering with refugees on his days off. The volunteering led to a job opportunity at Americorp VISTA and in the first year alone, the team of 5 helped resettle 550 refugees from Bhutan, Burma, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He then moved to Tucson, AZ to work as an employment coordinator for refugees seeking their first job.
Peter shared this touching story about a refugee child: “One of my favorite memories working with refugees was with a kid named Win Kyaw Kyaw. He arrived late at night after three days on his first plane ride, obviously wary of his new surroundings and unsure of the stranger coming to greet him that night. I had brought along a little stuffed animal to give him, which he immediately took and held tight. I got to know his family over the next couple of years and spent time taking him and his new friends out on the weekends. When I accepted the position in Tucson, I had dinner with his family a few nights before I moved. Right before I left that night, he pulled me aside and handed me the same teddy bear I had given him the night he arrived. He told me to take it saying "he kept me safe when I came here, and he'll keep you safe when you get to a new place too." That gesture symbolized for me that when we treat each other with dignity and respect, our work to build new homes for refugees can enrich our lives and communities in a way that creates a more compassionate world for all of us.”
Peter currently lives in Tucson, AZ with his wife, Alex, who works as an architect, their 3 cats (one who regularly joins him during virtual meetings), and 1 dog. They are planning and excited about moving to Oregon soon where Peter has close friends and has spent many summers. He enjoys classical history and science fiction, and creating custom picture frames and other woodworking projects.
We are excited for everyone to get to know Peter. He says that he is “planning on being with PRSG for the long haul, helping to build upon everything accomplished so far by all of our dedicated board members, staff, clients, and volunteers.” We couldn’t be more thrilled by this.
The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia - Population 117,000,000
Ethiopia is one of Africa’s largest countries of origin for refugees and asylum seekers. The most common reasons people seek to leave the country are economic, followed by political oppression, political insecurity, and ethnic tension. The most highly skilled migrants tend to live in the United States; according to the Ethiopian health minister as of 2012, there were more Ethiopian doctors practicing in Chicago, IL than in all of Ethiopia.
The 12th most populous country in the world, Ethiopia is a landlocked nation located in the horn of Africa. It is approximately the size of Bolivia and shares its borders to the north with Eritrea and Djibouti, and Somaliland to the northeast. Somalia is to the east, Kenya shares a southern border, and South Sudan is west while Sudan is northwest. The capital of the country is Addis Ababa which is also the largest city.
Ethiopia’s beauty is undeniable with a rich ecology ranging from deserts to tropical forests. They have large highland mountains which are the largest continuous mountain range in Africa. The climate is primarily described as a tropical monsoon, but due to the highland mountains that cover most of the country, the temperature is relatively cool compared to most countries located on the equator. Ethiopia is the global center for bird diversity with over 856 species identified and is considered one of the fundamental centers of origins for cultivated plants.
Given its population, Ethiopia is understandably diverse. There are 80 different ethnic groups in the country with Christianity leading the religions followed by Islam. 90 languages are spoken in Ethiopia and English is the most widely spoken foreign language because it is taught in school. Like many countries, Ethiopia is faced with the pressures of increasing urbanization as people move to cities to seek more opportunity. In the capital city, they have made notable improvements in the past 10 years and have housed close to 600,000 people in government-built condominiums. They have also greatly improved literacy levels, increasing the rate from 23.4% in 1994 to 49.1% in 2015.
Ethiopian cuisine consists mainly of vegetables and spicy meat dishes served as stew, called wat, on an unleavened bread made of teff flour called injera. Ethiopians eat predominantly with their right hands and use the injera to scoop up bites of the various wats. Traditional spices used in these dishes include berbere, a combination of chili pepper and other spices, and mitmita which is made of birdseye ground chili peppers, cardamom, cloves, and salt. Common beverages include tella - a homemade beer, taj - a strong honey wine, atmet – a barley and oat hot drink, coffee, and tea. There are several Ethiopian restaurants in Portland including Queen of Sheba which serves many traditional Ethiopian dishes.
The attire in Ethiopia varies across the many cultures and diverse climate. All white dresses with embroidery, called Habesha kemis, and accompanied by a shawl with embroidery on the ends, called a netela, are considered the national outfit for women. Netelas are used to communicate the state a woman is in. For instance, when the wearer is relaxing, the embroidered end of the netela will be positioned over the left shoulder; when she is attending a religious event, the netela will be wrapped around her back with the embroidered end over her right shoulder. For men, the national outfit consists of a white knee-length shirt, white pants, socks, a sweater, and a wrap-around gabi – a blanket-like netela.
Since November 2020, Ethiopia has been engaged in the Tigray war. The escalation of events began under the current prime minister Abiya Ahmed, who earned the Nobel Peace prize for helping end the 20-year conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia. In 2019, he merged ethnic, religious, and opposition parties into one political party, the Prosperity Party. The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) refused to join the Prosperity Party, and with the COVID-delayed elections in 2020, they then deemed Ahmed an illegitimate prime minister. The war began in Tigray, a large region in northern Ethiopia, with attacks on the Ethiopian National Defense Force by Tigray security forces. To date, the TPLF has joined forces with the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), and they have taken control of several towns just north of the capital city, Addis Ababa. Their goal is to “dismantle Abiy’s government by force or by negotiations, and then form a transnational authority”. According to the UNHCR, all sides have committed war crimes during this conflict, and a deep humanitarian crisis has developed. To date, over 60,000 refugees have fled this conflict, mainly heading to Sudan.
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Treasurer – firstname.lastname@example.org
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