Welcome to the third day of our series on refugees. Imagine having to leave your home for fear of your safety, and traveling with your family to start a new life in an unfamiliar country. It’s no secret that immigrants around the world face particular challenges as they struggle to take care of their loved ones. Recently, the Random Acts staff embarked on a coordinated effort to improve the lives of refugee families.
Back to School
It has been said that education is “the great equalizer” — and that holds especially true for people starting new lives in a new country. Education helps overcome language barriers and integrates families into their communities. But while public education itself costs relatively little, students need school supplies, sports equipment, clothing and more in order to maximize the benefits of their time at school. It’s no surprise, then, that a number of Random Acts reps and staffers reached out to organizations that put kids’ needs first.
- UK Regional Representatives Bhumika Makwana and Sarah Burnhope connected with the International Care Network in Bournemouth, England. ICN is a charity which provides a warm welcome for members of the refugee and migrant communities, helping them overcome the obstacles they may encounter in settling into their new homes. Bhumika and Sarah coordinated funding for school uniforms, shoes, bags and school supplies for two refugee children who were about to start at a new school.
- US Southeast Regional Representative Misty Cash reached out to the International Rescue Committee Refugee Center in Tallahassee, Florida. Misty’s goal was to give a sense of pride and self-worth to local refugee children on their first day of school. She and a couple of IRC high school volunteers shopped ‘til they dropped, purchasing more than 14 pairs of shoes and over 25 other clothing items, in a range of sizes to accommodate various children in need. Misty reported that not only was IRC grateful for the donations, but her helpers also got to experience what it is to truly give kindness to those in their community. We LOVE that!
- Staff Writer Lisa Cerezo met a volunteer from Rose Haven in Portland, Oregon while at a business mixer. Rose Haven is a day shelter and community center which serves homeless and displaced women and children, including refugee families. Rose Haven was in the middle of a donation drive to collect 300 new backpacks for homeless children starting school. Lisa coordinated the purchase of 36 backpacks toward their goal (which they eventually met!) and included note cards and stickers to include in all backpacks for extra encouragement.
- Not all students are children! Canada Regional Representative Rowan Meredith met a local Syrian refugee who wanted to buy his brother some new clothes before he began English classes. Rowan took the two brothers out shopping for clothes, and they all had a great time.
More Than Just “Stuff”
While it’s true that things like backpacks, pencils, and clothes might be considered smaller donations, their true worth lies in what these students can accomplish now that they have the right tools for the purpose. It’s one thing to give a child a used backpack, for example, but a new backpack gives the child a greater feeling of self-worth. Many of us take for granted having clothing and shoes that fit properly, but think about the rush of excitement you sometimes feel when you find the “perfect” outfit or shoes. For families who have been through the struggles that refugee families have, these small pleasures carry a much greater significance.