Refugee Voices

PHONE SCAM TARGETS REFUGEES


January 12, 2012 (San Diego) – The  Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) has been alerted to a new telephone scam that thus far is targeting Bhutanese refugees.  A man identifying himself as a representative of the “Federal Grants Department” calls from a Washington, DC-based telephone number, (202) 436-9601, informing recently resettled refugees that they are eligible to receive $10,000 because they are refugees from Bhutan. To claim the money, they are instructed to produce a money order for $650, and call the telephone number for further instructions on where to send the money. Be advised that this is NOT a legitimate solicitation.

IRC BUS TOUR SHARES TASTY AND EXOTIC EATERIES IN EL CAJON AND CITY HEIGHTS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Megan McGlamery

Photos by Woo-Jin Shim and Natalia Robert (http://full-circle-images.com/)

December 30, 2011 (San Diego)--Since 1933, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) has been helping refugees rebuild their lives after fleeing tumultuous wars or other catastrophes in their homelands.  The IRC is currently active in 22 U.S. cities as well as overseas. In 2001, the IRC created its Microenterprise Program with the goal of helping refugees create their own businesses.

In the last 10 years, the IRC has helped 175 San Diego-based refugees become small-business owners. To showcase some of the great refugee-owned eateries of East County, the IRC hosted a Micro-finance bus tour, offering patrons a chance to sample some delicious cuisine from Iraq and East Africa.

GIFTS TO HELP REFUGEES: INTERNATIONAL RESCUE COMMITTEE PRESENTS LIST AND SAVES LIVES

 December 17, 2011 (San Diego) –This holiday season, the International Rescue Committee offers options for socially conscious, eco-friendly and financially prudent shoppers – Rescue Gifts that save and improve lives of refugees and others hit by war and natural disaster.  

San Diego County last year welcomed more refugees than any other U.S. county, making this especially meaningful here. At Rescue.org/Gifts, holiday shoppers can choose Rescue Gifts to dedicate to friends or family members, including:

LOCAL LEADERS RECEIVE MUCH DESERVED RECOGNITION FOR PHILANTHROPIC WORK

Six honorees were recognized for their work with the Somali and East African Refugee Community

November 2, 2011 (San Diego) — Somali Family Service of San Diego (SFS) held its First Annual OceanLeaf Awards Celebration to honor and recognize six community members who have made significant contributions in advancing the nation’s second largest Somali and East African refugee population on Wednesday, October 19.

 

 

AFTER EIGHT YEARS OF WAR, WHAT DO IRAQIS THINK?

 

San Diego’s East County is home to the largest population of Iraq War refugees in the U.S. and the second largest Iraqi immigrant population the nation. In a special assignment for East County Magazine, Nabil Taha interviewed local Iraqis and also translated Iraqi TV reports to learn Iraqis’ views on withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

By Nabil Taha

SURVEY FINDS 3,000 FORCED MARRIAGES SUSPECTED AMONG IMMIGRANT GIRLS AND WOMEN IN AMERICA

 

October 9, 2011 (Washington D.C.) – The Tahirih Justice Center, which seeks to protect women in the U.S. from gender-based violence, reports “an increasing number of forced marriage cases involving young women and girls from traditional immigrant communities in the United States.” Some are U.S. citizens; others are legal permanent residents, refugees, asylees, or have other immigration statuses. 

AFRICAN WOMEN AND THEIR CHILDREN FIND HELPING HANDS AT NILE SISTERS

 
Nile Banquet luncheon Saturday celebrates 10th anniversary, benefits health and literary programs for refugee women
By Miriam Raftery
 
September 15, 2011 (San Diego) –From East Africa to East San Diego, women refugees have been finding help for their special needs through Nile Sisters. As the 501(c)3 nonprofit prepares for its ten year anniversary celebration this Saturday, September 17, founder Elizabeth Lou shared reflections with ECM on the many needs that Nile Sisters has filled since opening its doors in 2001.
 
“Before, some refugees gave birth in their apartments here in City Heights,” she recalls, noting that in Africa “aunties” serve as midwives  because men are not allowed to watch childbirth and it’s considered shameful to talk about such matters. 

NILE SISTERS BANQUET SEPT. 17 CELEBRATES 10 YEARS OF HELPING SAN DIEGO'S WOMEN REFUGEES FROM AFRICA

September 6, 2011 (San Diego) – Nile Sisters, a City Heights-based nonprofit organization specializing n helping African refugee women and their families, invites the public to the 2011 Nile Sisters Banquet. The event celebrates the organization’s ten year anniversary of serving African women in San Diego. The banquet will be held on Saturday, September 17 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 7715 Draper Avenue. Tickets cost $25.

LANTERN FESTIVAL CELEBRATES ASIAN HERITAGE IN LITTLE SAIGON DISTRICT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

August 28, 2011 (City Heights)—A shimmering dragon marched past, trailed by followers beating cymbals and carrying glow sticks. Hundreds of lanterns glowed softly against the night sky, accentuated by the streaming lights of carnival rides. I sampled Thai chicken-on-a-stick, along with fried bananas and yams—all at the third annual Lantern Festival in City Heights.

NILE SISTERS WORLD REFUGEE MONTH OPEN HOUSE

 

June 14, 2011 (San Diego) -- On Saturday, June 18 the Nile Sisters will be holding an open house from 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. in recognition of World Refugee Month. The Nile Sisters help refugee women in the San Diego area with the needs they have to get settled.

 

The cost is free, but donations are appreciated. The event will include cultural music, and Hors d'oeuvre from different ethnicities. African artifacts will also be available for purchase. Please RSVP to Sistersinitiative@sbcglobal.net.

 

 

LITTLE MOGADISHU: FROM EAST AFRICA TO EAST SAN DIEGO

 

By Miriam Raftery

April 9, 2011 (San Diego)—Inside the Safari Market bazaar, a Somali woman sells bright-colored beaded head scarves,  jewelry and rugs. Two dozen vendors offer other wares and services. Nearby, African Spice restaurant serves up savory sambussas (pastry shells filled with meats, vegetables and African spices), succulent fish, lamb, goat, and an aromatic tea seasoned with cloves. Safari Market also sells groceries, such as large bags of cinnamon and rice, some labeled in Arabic.


 

No, this isn’t a street scene out of Africa. It’s a new business incubator in the East San Diego neighborhood known as “Little Mogadishu” – a hub where refugees from war-torn East African nations such as Somalia, the Sudan, Eritria and Ethiopia are starting new lives in America, aided by the nonprofit organizations Horn of Africa Community and Somali Family Services. The Safari center has created 125 jobs for East African refugees, mostly women.  Now it's become a model that is being replicated in other U.S. cities.

ALONE IN A STRANGE LAND: AFRICAN ASYLEES TELL THEIR STORIES


An East County Magazine Special Report

 

ECM conducted exclusive interviews with people who fled war-torn Somalia and were granted asylum in the U.S. Fearing retribution against family members still in Somalia, the asylees agreed to speak out under condition that their identities be protected. The stories below are real, though the names are pseudonyms. Their tales describe dramatic round-the-world journeys to reach America, hardships endured on the road and inside U.S. detention facilities, as well as hopes for the future as they start new lives through Project Refuge in San Diego.  

By Miriam Raftery

February 17, 2011 (San Diego’s East County) – Aisha comes from a rural area near Mogadishu in Somalia. “I couldn’t take it anymore,” she said of the fighting and war-torn conditions that led her to flee her homeland.

PROJECT REFUGE: ROTARY CLUBS TEAM UP WITH SOMALI FAMILY SERVICES TO SPONSOR SAFE HAVEN FOR ASYLEES

By Miriam Raftery

“We want you to have a good start in America, and for the rest of your lives.” – Dory Beatrice, president of La Jolla Golden Triangle Rotary Club, speaking to Somali women at Project Refuge
 

February 17, 2011 (San Diego) – Dory Beatrice felt shocked to learn that people who fled persecution and have been granted asylum in America are being released on the streets of San Diego with no funds, no information on resources, and no place to go.

 

So she worked with local Rotary chapters to raise funds and open Project Refuge, a transitional housing program in partnership with Somali Family Services that now assists asylees who have no family or friends here to help them.

SERENITY HOUSE, EL CAJON’S NEWEST SHOP, OFFERS CHRISTIAN BOOKS & MUSIC IN ARABIC


Egyptian proprietor also serves up coffee, snacks, and free classes to help Arabic-speaking residents

By Miriam Raftery
 

January 17, 2011 (El Cajon) --

On Saturday, throngs of well-wishers  stopped by on Saturday to bid welcome (ahlan wa sahaln, أهلا وسهلا) to Zohny Hanna at his new business, Serenity House in downtown El Cajon. The store/coffee shop offers Christian books, art, and music in Arabic. Located on Main Street just east of Magnolia, Serenity House also offers free classes in English and community orientations for East County’s growing population of Arabic-speaking immigrants, asylees, and refugees.

 

“This is my land now. America is my new home,” says Hanna, who came here on a tourist vista back in 1997 with his wife and children, then received asylum status due to persecution of Coptic Christians in his native Egypt.

 

BOOK REVIEW: SKY OF RED POPPIES REVEALS THE ENDURING POWER OF FRIENDSHIP AMID A CLASH OF CULTURES



Sky Of Red Poppies, By Zohreh Ghahremani (Turquoise Books, San Diego, CA, 2010, 305 Pages.)

Updated Review with podcast interview of author on "East County Magazine Live!" radio show on KNSJ 89.1 FM.

Book Review by Dennis Moore

 

August 16, 2014 (San Diego)--Zohreh Ghahremani, an artist, writer and gardener residing in the San Diego area, has written a stunning and poetic tale about two girls coming of age in Iran during the 1960s. The theme of the book questions how much can a friendship change your life? Set against the backdrop of a nation forced to mute its profound identity, Sky of Red Poppies is a novel about culture, politics and the redeeming power of friendships.

IRAQI CHRISTIANS IN EAST COUNTY TO HOLD PRAYER GATHERING TONIGHT IN REMEMBRANCE OF THOSE KILLED BY AL QAEDA IN NOV. 1 ATTACK DURING MASS SERVICE IN IRAQ

 

November 3, 2010 (San Diego's East County) – East County’s Iraqi Christians will hold a prayer gathering tonight from 5-6:30 p.m. in the Prescott Promenade at 201 East Main Street, El Cajon.

 

A crowd of 500 or more is expected to attend the gathering, which is held in remembrance of Iraqi Christians massacred November 1st in an Al Qaeda attack on a Catholic church in Iraq.

CHALDEAN FESTIVAL SEPT 4 & 5 IN ELCAJON

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

September 1, 2010(El Cajon ) – Folk dancing, authentic Chaldean food, live music and singing performed in Aramaic-Chaldean and English will all be part of the festivities at the Chaldean Annual Festival in El Cajon. A $5 admission/voucher may be used towards food, children’s games, or purchases from vendors. An art and cultural exhibition will also be held.

LANTERN FESTIVAL CELEBRATES VIETNAMESE CULTURE IN CITY HEIGHTS AUG. 27-29

By Ray M. Wong
 

August 25, 2010 (City Heights) -- Phong Huynh came to the U.S. as a refugee with his family from Vietnam in 1990 at age 12. One of his fondest memories of the country where he spent most of his childhood is the Mid-Autumn Festival called “Tet Trung Thu” celebrated every year.

 

1,800 DISABLED, ELDERLY REFUGEES LOCALLY TO LOSE FEDERAL BENEFITS



Aide workers voice fears over impact of cuts on East County’s growing refugee population; San Diego’s Congressional representatives have thus far declined to take action to extend benefits

 

By Miriam Raftery

 

August 3, 2010 (San Diego) – Over 3,800 disabled and elderly refugees who came to the U.S. legally, all victims of persecution or torture, have been notified that they will lose Supplemental Security Income (SSI) on October 1st. Those slated to lose benefits include about 1,800 Iraq War refugees living in East County.

 

“They don’t have any other income. They want to find work and they can’t. They are too old and too sick,” said Joseph Ziauddin, president of the East County Refugee Center in El Cajon. Ziauddin estimates that there are around 40,000 Iraqis now living in East County.  Asked how many of East County’s Iraqis are currently refugees, he replied, “Ninety percent.”

SURVIVOR RECALLS HARROWING ESCAPE FROM SADDAM HUSSEIN’S SECRET POLICE PRISON

By Miriam Raftery

August 4, 2010 (El Cajon ) – Joseph Ziauddin, president of the East County Refugee Center, rolls up his sleeve to reveal deep scars on his forearm acquired during a daring escape. “This saved my life,” said Ziauddin, who said he was thrown in jail and tortured daily for three months because he loaned money to a friend who opposed Saddam Hussein, then president of Iraq. “I am the only one who fled from the secret police prison.”

Today, he dedicates his life to helping fellow refugees, teaching English classes at the Refugee Center. He has funded his efforts out of his own pocket, he said, but seeks help for the growing number of refugees in East County. Many of them, like himself, have endured torture or other horrors.

BOOK REVIEW: BAREFOOT IN BAGHDAD


Barefoot in Baghdad, By Manal M. Omar (Sourcebooks, Naperville, Illinois, 2010, 242 pages.)

 

Book Review by Dennis Moore


Barefoot in Baghdad is a Muslim American Woman’s Story of Struggle, Sisterhood, and Love in the Chaos of Iraq

 

July 29, 2010 (San Diego) -- Manal M. Omar, author of Barefoot in Baghdad, an international aid worker from an Arab and Muslim heritage, has provided valuable first-hand insights into events a world away following the 9/11 World Trade Center disaster. One of the book's major characters is now a prominent member of San Diego's Iraqi community.

UGANDAN REFUGEE SEEKS WORK AS HE ADAPTS TO LIFE IN AN AMERICAN URBAN JUNGLE


Raised in a jungle in war-torn Uganda, Nathanael now struggles to adapt to the American lifestyle in an urban jungle in City Heights


By Diana Barreto

July 12, 2010 (San Diego) -- A member of the Acholi tribe in northern Uganda and a resident in an African refugee camp for 12 years, James Nathanael came to the United States with high hopes and great expectations.

He left his home and tribe in Northern Uganda in 1986 because of ongoing wars in his area. “There was a lot of killing,” he recalls. “I had to leave the country due to fear.” He lived a fulfilling but simple life as a student and a farmer prior to these wars. But the danger that surrounded him drove him from the life he knew and loved.

CHILD ABUSE WORKSHOP JULY 26

 

July 10, 2010 (San Diego)--The family education department of the International Rescue Committee – San Diego will host a 2-hour workshop on July 26, 2010, from 9:00 a.m.to 11 a.m., on child abuse prevention (with an emphasis on sexual abuse prevention) for child care workers and any interested community members.

INTERNATIONAL NIGHT OF NETWORKING JULY 14

 

June 29, 2010 (City Heights) – Refugee Works and the San Diego Refugee Foreign invite local businesses to an International Night of Networking on Wednesday, July 14 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at City Heights Center conference hall, 4305 University Avenue, San Diego. The event will showcase talents of foreign-trained professionals, forced to leave their homes because of war or persecution, who are now legal U.S. residents.

 

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