Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Working with refugeees this Christmas - you can help

Recently I've had the privilege of working with World Relief Seattle on their Christmas mailing. World Relief does a fantastic job resettling refugees in the Puget Sound area, many of whom have incredible stories and have endured so much hardship on their journeys to safety in the USA.

For the Christmas card (featured here, that went out last week - phew!), we decided to feature a precious Burmese baby called Bawi Kung. This little one arrived to Seattle in late September as 5-month-old. The mother is a 23-year-old woman who must have some strength: not only does she have three little boys, but she's lived in a refugee camp for the past four years and has just uprooted once again to find safety in Seattle with her husband.

The Burmese government is one of the most brutal regimes on the planet right now, and it makes me so happy to see families who've lived in fear and insecurity arrive in Seattle to find freedom, opportunity and a community of passionate volunteers and staff rallying around them in support.

Most people in Washington (and everywhere) are making sacrifices due to tough financial times. Right now the Washington state government is figuring out where to make needed budget cuts. Scarily, Governor Gregoire has proposed a complete elimination of all state funding for refugee programs.  For World Relief, the implications would be awful. This would cut off vital services to hundreds of refugees who are fighting to get their lives together after moving across the world to find freedom, suffering post-traumatic shock and culture shock and figuring out how to live in a modern urban world. I can tell you from personal experience that moving across the world by choice as a relatively privileged, educated, English-speaking couple with no children is hard enough; my heart goes out to refugees everyone.

If you live in (the great state of) Washington, please join consider asking your state representatives and senators to keep funding for these programs. You can find your representative here. I can give you more information about the specific programs affected if you ask.

If you would like to support vulnerable refugees through the work World Relief Seattle does, please consider donating before the end of the year.

I don't normally (or ever!) make financial appeals, but I really wanted to share what I've been working on non-stop for the past month, especially since it's an issue so close to my own heart. And really, how can you resist precious little Bawi Kung?


Jess Fouche said...

Alisha~ awesome post! I am definately going to take action with you to stand up for the refugees in our state/country.

Rachael Randal said...

I wish you, your readers and World Relief Seattle all the best with this campaign, Alisha. I really hope that funding for these programmes will be continued in Washington and Worldwide.

You will no doubt have heard about the refugee boat tragedy off Christmas Island in Australia. So so sad. I feel that the media sometimes have a lot to answer for, in terms of their fear-mongering amongst the general public and the subsequent hard stance that governments feel compelled to take against asylum seekers. It’s high time for everyone to wake up to the fact that sending refugees back to face persecution, torture or death is grossly inhumane.

alisha said...

Thanks Jess!

Rachael, I hadn't heard about this actually -- that's awful. I completely agree the media has a lot to answer for in terms of fear mongering. I haven't heard the results of the WA state budget but I'm so disappointed the DREAM act didn't go through, which would have allowed undocumented young people who've lived here over 5 years to pursue a path to citizenship. What a shame!

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