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Dear PRSG families,
The warm summer days are slowly becoming brisk evenings and beautiful fall colors are all around us. While many of us have the blessing of being able to cozy up to a fire with a warm cup of tea and a great book, many in this world are struggling to find food to eat, clean water to drink or safety. The current state of the world seems to only be getting worse as the news out of Afghanistan continues to be troubling. The latest events in Afghanistan have resulted in the displacement of tens-of-thousands of Afghans, some of which will resettle here in Oregon. We at PRSG are working with local authorities to learn more about the situation and are dedicated to supporting any refugees who enter Portland to help them navigate their new lives as they work towards self-sufficiency.
With that said, PRSG has taken big steps to help our organization grow and become better equipped to handle the increased needs in our community. As we reported before, we have been on the hunt for a new Executive Director and after a long and extensive process we are happy to report that we have found the best person for this job. This is huge for us as we feel blessed to have such an amazing and experienced person enter our PRSG family. We will officially introduce the new ED to you all soon.
During the frenzy of searching for a new ED we did manage to have a pretty busy and productive summer. We ran three different summer programs that helped hundreds of children from both refugee and immigrant backgrounds. We co-hosted a summer market with our great friends at Rosewood Initiative, we hired an amazing Volunteer Coordinator, Angela, who has taken our community connections program to new levels, and we have made huge strides in improving our programming.
Finally, as the end of the year approaches, we cannot emphasize the importance of your support. We will be making a strong push to meet our fundraising goals for this year. Please help us by donating here.
As always, thank you for your continued support!
COVID-19 News and Resources
Last month we saw a small decline in the number of Covid-19 cases in Oregon. Though this decline has been long awaited it does not mean mask mandates have been lifted. Masks are still required indoors everywhere, and outdoors in any space where social distancing is not an option. Staying at home whenever possible is encouraged. Hopefully by staying safe we can help to keep those case numbers in the decline. Schools are back in session, and are requiring masks and employing whatever precautions they can to keep the students safe.
The CDC recently authorized a booster shot for those who are over the age of 65 or are at high risk. The booster shot is a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine with the purpose of strengthening your initial immunity. You must meet the following criteria to be eligible:
• Be over the age of 65 or at high risk
• Have originally received the Pfizer vaccine
• Have received your last dose more than 6 months ago
If you meet these criteria and are interested, contact your health care 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.
Rental Assistance and Moratorium
There is still time to apply for the Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance Program (OERAP). 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
Senate Bill 282, a bill that extends the repayment period for residential rent accrued during the Covid-19 pandemic has ended. If you are behind in your rent, please apply immediately for assistance. For other housing news, including new low-income housing options, visit the Oregon Housing Authority website here.
In Washington state, the Treasury Rent Assistance Program (T-RAP) can assist with rent payments. To learn more and apply, CLICK HERE.
Due to Covid-19 restrictions, PRSG has made the difficult decision to postpone the restart of our Untangled Potlucks. Stay tuned as we hope to begin potlucks again as soon as it is possible and safe to do so.
We are planning to schedule a virtual bake sale December 4th. Mark your calendar and get ready to sample some delicious homemade goodies!
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).
Volunteers are the heart and soul of PRSG and are always needed in many capacities. To learn more about how you can become a volunteer, visit our website or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Highlights – Rosewood Saturday Celebrations
Every Saturday in September, the Rosewood Initiative in Southeast Portland hosted a vaccine clinic and community marketplace event. Several of our bakers were invited to attend along with popular, all-natural soap maker, Hind. The event provided a marketplace for members of the community to sell their homemade goods and local non-profits and community organizations a place to share information. Live bands and DJs provided entertainment and delicious food was available for purchase.
The event was great fun and provided an opportunity for our bakers to earn some extra money and gain confidence in working with the public to sell their goods. We are grateful for our continued partnership with Rosewood Initiative. Before Covid-19, many attended the bake sales which were held in person at Rosewood’s Community Center on Stark Street. Rosewood hopes to make these community marketplace events an annual occurrence and we hope we will be able to participate again in the future. Thank you, Rosewood Initiative!
Over the past few years, Dr. Fatein Mahmoud, affectionately referred to as Amu (uncle) by so many, has dedicated an enormous amount of time and effort to PRSG. Filled with passion, dedication and caring for refugee families, and with one of the biggest hearts, Fatein has made, and continues to make, an important impact on PRSG and the lives of refugee families. Fatein began with PRSG very early on when we were still in our fledgling state. As our key liaison to clients, Fatein works directly with our refugee families, checking in with them often and making sure they are safe and thriving in their new lives. Fatein has worn many hats at PRSG from core volunteer to Director of Refugee Affairs. He keeps in constant communication with our clients to make sure their needs are met.
Fatein became involved early on with PRSG as his daughter Nora was one of the founding members of the organization. A retired engineer from Egypt, Fatein and his lovely wife Omnia both enjoy devoting their free time to helping secure a safe and successful life here for refugee families. Fatein says his best reward is seeing a smile of satisfaction on the face of the families he helps.
One of his favorite stories from his time with PRSG highlights the power of community in solving problems. A family had three children sleeping on the floor because they could not afford to buy a bed. Fatein posted a request to a PRSG donor group and within 7 minutes, 5 people had donated the money for the family to purchase a bed from IKEA. The children were thrilled to have their first bed since coming to the US! Fatein has passed on his dedication to helping the community to his two children who live here in the US with their families. His daughter Nora and her husband Ahmed volunteer helping the community in many ways here in Portland and can often be seen at PRSG events. His son Hazem and his wife Reem founded an Islamic High School in California and have been graduating students for the past 7 years.
In the limited free time not already dedicated to helping others, Fatein enjoys eating Egyptian Molokhia, swimming, playing chess, reading, walking, watching movies, and working outdoors with his garden and fruit trees. He hopes to begin keeping honey bees in the near future.
Fatein is committed to staying with PRSG for the rest of his life and we certainly would count ourselves blessed and lucky to have him. We don’t know what we would do without his dedication and devotion. Fatein is a valuable member of our volunteer team.
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – Population 101,000,000
Throughout the world the refugee crisis continues to grow, and many countries receive more attention than others due to geography or politics. One of the worst refugee crises in the world referred to as the world’s “Forgotten Crisis” can be found in the DRC with over 807,000 refugees.
The DRC, formally known as Zaire, boarders the equator in central Africa. It is surrounded by the Republic of Congo to the northwest, South Sudan to the northeast and the Central African Republic to the north. To the south, the DRC is surrounded by Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Zambia, Angola and Tanzania, with a square footage equal to all western Europe. It is the second largest country in Africa behind Algeria and the 11th largest in the world. The DRC is a beautiful country boasting the second largest rainforest in the world filled with massive amounts of biodiversity and land ripe with natural resources such as copper and cobalt. In addition, the land in the DRC is perfect for farming and the potential for hydroelectric power is immense. One would think that with so many resources a country would flourish but sadly, like in so many other countries, the DRC’s potential has been crushed over the centuries due to commercial and colonial extraction and exploitation, political unrest, very poor infrastructure, political corruption, and lack of development.
Like many countries in Africa, DRC cuisines is both rich with traditional foods and influenced by outside interactions. French and Belgian influence can be seen in food preparation techniques such as confit and braised meat. Outside of this influence the DRC cuisine is based mainly on Central and Western traditions using the most common crops grown in the region, cassava (a main staple), sweet potatoes, taro, yam, plantains, okra, tomatoes, beans, and ground nuts. Cassava is an important part of the everyday diet. It is pounded into a paste called fufu which is usually served with every meal.
The DRC also has prime land for ranching. The main sources of animal protein are chicken and goat meat but because they are expensive, meat is usually reserved for special occasions or to share with guests. Fishing was once a great business source for the region, but overfishing has destroyed that industry. When available, fish is usually fried or steamed in banana leaves. Smoked and salted fish are sold by Congolese women as street food. Other sources of protein include bush meat, grasshoppers, and caterpillars. If you are interested in trying Fufu and other delicious foods from the region you are in luck! There are many restaurants representing the foods of central Africa including Akadi, known for its delicious Fufu.
Like so many other countries in Africa, the DRC is rich in culture that is strongly influenced by Arabic- and Berber-speaking people of the Middle East. However, that influence was dampened by European colonialization. Because of this, there are many different forms of art in the DRC that represent centuries of inspiration which became an amalgamation of Middle-Eastern, European and local peoples culture. Painting, sculpture, music, and dance have developed in a variety of ways among the Congo's many ethnic groups and regions. Sculpture and carving have a tendency to be classified according to the styles of the regions from which they emerge. The Kongo people's stone and nail-studded nkisi statues, as well as the Yaka's masks and figures, are famous in the southwest. The Kuba of the south-central region are noted for their ndop, or king-like statues that can function as a symbolic representative in the king's absence. Luba art dominates the southeast, and statuettes showing motherhood reflect the enormous influence of women in culture. This influence can also be seen in the traditional clothing worn by men and women of the DRC that is rich in color and texture. For more information about the DRC, its history and current state, as well as some amazing facts about the country, including its beautiful landscapes, check out this site.
Website – www.pdxrsg.org
Information – email@example.com
President – firstname.lastname@example.org
Vice president – email@example.com
Treasurer – firstname.lastname@example.org
Programming – email@example.com
Head of Refugee Affairs – firstname.lastname@example.org
Office Manager – email@example.com
Volunteer Coordinator – firstname.lastname@example.org
Tutoring and Educational Services- email@example.com
Events – firstname.lastname@example.org
Goods Donations – email@example.com
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