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 helping by speaking out with every group you are in, are two simple ways to make a difference. Help people know that so 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.
Please see our How You Can Help section by clicking on the side bar 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 the Champlain Valley cluster group traveled to Vermont to meet with the director of the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program that has for 20 years helped refugees find new lives in and around Burlington. Topics addressed at the meeting included the legal parameters of the resettlement process, supportive services for refugees in their new living environments, and possible collaborative efforts across our two states.
- On Sunday, May 22, Laurie Stavrand, Community Partnership Coordinator of VT Resettlement, will come to the North Country, along with several refugees, to present options for supporting refugees locally. Time and place to be determined. Save the date on your calendar!
- Written responses to a rather negative letter to the editor in The Sun. Some were published. (It was good to note that other letters supportive of refugee work were submitted by people not necessarily connected to the 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 Jordon until he is able to return to his own country. About 40 people attended the presentation. Click here for press release.
- There was impressive and accurate 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 current and relevant 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, will begin settling Syrian refugees in Rutland, Vermont.
- Albany, NY, Anthony Opalka, City Historian, will lead a walking tour of Albany discussing the waves of immigration across the 19th and 20th centuries.
- First Syrian family arrives in the US on April 6, 2016 the first Syrian family to arrive in the U.S. under a refugee “surge operation”arrived in Kansas City. 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 in an effort to reduce the lengthy and intensive background checks from one to two years to three months. It is estimated that Jordan, with a population of about 7,600,000 million has accommodated 600,000 Syrians and 500,000 Iraqis who have fled violence in their home countries. In toto about 9 milliion Syrians have fled their country since 2011 overwhelming neighboring and some,European nations. So far the United States, with a population of 317,292,487 has accepted 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 deportion.
- Pope Francis is taking 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's 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.