Education and Advocacy
Friends of Refugees in the Champlain Valley is a small grass-roots group committed to a mission of education and advocacy. The better informed we are, the more effective we will be, so these two approaches are intimately connected. We hope to help ourselves and others understand the constantly changing situation with refugees abroad, continue to help shape public opinion in response to the needs expressed, while creating an informed and welcoming context for re-settlement of refugees in the North Country, should that occur.
You can take action right now, right here.
Your voice is important -- writing local letters to the editor, and speaking out with every group you are in, are two simple ways to make a difference. Help people know that many of us believe in our moral and human commitment to actively relieve the misery of refugees. Our world has always had refugees, now even more than ever, those who are desperately seeking safety from wars, famine, climate change, or social, political and racial prejudice.
Complacency aids oppression by failing to speak up and out. Know the rights of individuals, so that you may speak up and help protect them! Unchecked power tends to act in authoritarian, ungoverned, unlimited ways.
ALL human beings have rights, including those who are not citizens, who may be immigrants, or refugees. ALL agencies have restrictions on how they may act and what they can do.
Please see our How You Can Help section by clicking on the sidebar link above for more details.
So far, our group has:
Written an editorial on Trump policies (click here to read).
Written an editorial carried in the region's free newspaper, delivered to every household (click here to read).
Our group's Joint Steering Committee has written an editorial published in The Sun, our local free weekly newspaper (click here to read).
On May 22 five members of our Champlain Valley group traveled to Vermont to meet with the director of the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program that has for 20 - 30 years helped refugees find new lives in and around Burlington. We discussed the legal resettlement process, support services for refugees in their new living environments, and possible collaborative efforts.
Written responses to a negative letter to the editor in The Sun. Some were published, including those written by others not in this group.
Forwarded a letter to Rep. Stefanik that was written by other members of the US House of Representatives outlining appropriation needs for refugees. We asked for her support.
Organized a presentation by a Syrian democracy activist and now student, Adnan Mahameed from “ICAN” (International Community Action Network. https://www.mcgill.ca/ican/ at McGill University. His presentation, along with the presentation of two Palestinian-Israeli adults and three children put faces and a note of reality to the efforts to bring “rights-based” peace to that section of the world. Adnan will be working with Syrian refugees in Jordan until he is able to return to his own country. About 40 people attended the presentation. Click here for press release.
There was impressive press coverage for this event, including both written (Press Republican, The Sun, Adirondack Daily Enterprise) and audio (NCPR). This kind of coverage is one of the best ways to educate the general public: http://www.pressrepublican.com/news/local_news/syrian-refugee-families-to-share-stories-at-keene-valley-gathering/article_f4b038f1-b8a6-5cd2-9ef1-dfdb092b8d90.html
Our plans for the future include continuing to write letters of support, meeting with local officials as needed, and arranging for presentations. Join us and contribute your own ideas for education and advocacy!
Links to some excellent information sources:
The Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program in Colchester, VT, has resettled Syrian refugees in Rutland, Vermont.
Albany, NY, Anthony Opalka, City Historian, led a walking tour of Albany discussing the waves of immigration across the 19th and 20th centuries.
The arrival of the first Syrian family in the US on April 6, 2016, under a refugee “surge operation”. The Al Abboud family of 2 parents and 5 children had fled Homs, Syria and spent three years in a resettlement center in Jordan. Last February the U.S. created a resettlement surge center in Amman to reduce the lengthy and intensive background checks from one to two years to three months. Jordan, with a population of about 7,600,000 million, has accommodated 600,000 Syrians and 500,000 Iraqis fleeing violence in their home countries. In toto about 9 milliion Syrians have fled their country since 2011, overwhelming neighboring states and some, European nations. So far the United States, with a population of 317,292,487 has accepted just 1,000 Syrian refugees. President Obama's governments’ goal at this time is to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees by September 2016.
Read about church in Chicago, IL, sheltering a father of five, attempting to avoid deportation.
Pope Francis has brought 12 Muslim refugees from Syria, including six children, back to Rome after visiting a detention center in Greece.
Article on "The Moral Dimensions of Hatred of Islam" written by Robert Harsh, a member of the Champlain Valley Friends of Refugees group click here.
New York Times article on the significant benefit Utica, NY, has received by resettling refugees and immigrants in a formerly moribund city.
Bono - "Time to Think Bigger About the Refugee Crisis" NY Times click here.
Denmark - tragic - too many too fast? Click here.