2016 ACTIVITIES SUMMARY
It was a very busy first year for our Champlain Valley Friends of Refugees organization!
- Working with webmaster and coalition member Laura Steenburg, we created this website – adirondack-friends-of-refugees.com – that includes news and photos of our activities as well as related newspaper articles and other resources on refugee issues and initiatives in this country and abroad. The website also includes space for use by the refugee advocacy groups in Lake Placid and Tupper Lake areas.
- In May 2016 we hosted a public forum at the Community Church in Essex where four refugees and a staff member at the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program spoke about the process and experience of resettlement after life in a refugee camp.
- Again working in cooperation with the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program, we were invited by resettled Nepalese Refugee Pabitra Bhattarai to attend a Nepalese film and meet many of the people in the refugee community in Burlington. While there, we ate dinner at the Central Market.
- Then, in August we hosted a wonderful Day Away at Normandie Beach Resort in Westport, New York, where 15 Nepalese and 15 Americans shared a meal, played in the water, and exchanged ethnic songs and dances.
- We also raised $3,000 for Bicycles for Refugees in Germany and hosted a public discussion in September on this program with a visitor from Germany who told us about the progress with asylum seekers in that country.
- In conjunction with Keene Valley Congregational Church, which initiated the original Refugee Summit in January 2016, we and two other organizations received a grant of $2,000 from the Adirondack Foundation that was originally to be used to hire someone to coordinate among local groups active in refugee issues throughout the North Country. That need has dissipated, so we are re-purposing the funds. (This Champlain Valley Friends of Refugees website includes available space [see above] for refugee advocacy groups in the Keene Valley and Lake Placid/Tupper Lake areas.)
- Our updated plan for the Adirondack Foundation and additional funding is to sponsor a program entitled Framing Your Story in the North Country. We will work with classrooms in schools in the North Country in a photography-based study unit about refugee issues and experiences in a format created by Lake Placid resident Beatrice Schachenmayr, who has spent six months in Istanbul teaching kids to tell their stories with cameras, journals, and pencils. She now plans to go to Germany in January 2017 and do the same there (frameyourstory.org).
- A similar, parallel program will be offered at Willsboro Central School created by two Willsboro classroom teachers, Local Photographer Robert Harsh, and Lake Placid Resident Rose Hyson, who has taught English in Tibet and travelled elsewhere in Asia and across the United States.
- We are also hoping to host another Day Away for Vermont refugees, and so you’ll hear from us again on that as well. In the meantime, we hope you have a wonderful holiday season and new year. We have so much to be grateful for. At the same time, reconciling efforts to reach out to refugees and across borders are so important, especially in the context of the divisive and dangerous anti-refugee and nativist messages in our recent presidential election and in the current political dynamics of several European countries. (I am Facebook friends with Pabitra, and she has tagged me in some very concerning conversations with her friends about racism and the direction of our country.)
Many thanks to all of you who have
supported these efforts
and share our concern for the refugee crisis
around the world.
As this tragedy continues to deepen,
we will be challenged in the new year to keep
faith in our shared humanity and to persist in
discovering and celebrating Abraham Lincoln’s
“better angels of our nature”
throughout a very troubled world.
Champlain Valley Friends of Refugees
INCOME & EXPENSES FOR 2016
2016 - 2017 contributions to the work of the Champlain Valley Friends of Refugees totaled $1075.00. Program expenses were $761.50, leaving a balance of $313.50 in our account maintained at St. John’s Church in Essex.
We greatly appreciate your volunteer labor, encouragement, and financial support for our activities welcoming refugees to their new homes here in the North Country. Donations can be made to St. John's Church, 4 Church Street, Essex, NY 12936 with FOR in the memo line.