Restoring Dignity #24
Saturday, November 18th, 2017
“…I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you made me your guest, I needed clothes and you provided them, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me…”
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Nine years ago, a Karen family of five came to the United States after being refugees in a camp in Thailand for more than 15 years. Prior to being forced to flee their homeland, the parents were farmers who grew crops and raised livestock for a living. They led a peaceful life, raising their children, crops, and animals, until the civil war in Burma intensified and they had to leave their farm. Living in the refugee camp, they were unable to farm, and thus lost their vocation, forced to live a life of waiting- hoping that one day they would be able to leave the camp and return to their home. However, the war in Burma raged on and after nearly two decades of waiting, they were offered the opportunity to move to America to start their life over. Moving with their three teenage children, they came to Omaha, Nebraska to begin their new life. However, as the years passed the challenges grew for them. The father developed diabetes and severe back issues, leaving him unable to work and provide for his family. The mother worked and cared for their son who was born with cerebral palsy. She eventually cut down on working as much, to help take care of her grandchildren, after her two daughters married and had children. Tragically, her youngest daughter developed schizophrenia after giving birth to her second grandchild, and she has since become the main caretaker of her daughter and her grandkids: ages 21 months and 5 years. We heard about their situation and visited with them this week. The situation in their apartment is dire. There is one mattress, a bunk bed with no mattresses that the son with cerebral palsy sleeps with only a blanket underneath him, no couch, no kitchen table. The family does not have the means to purchase these items, as the small income they receive pays rent and utilities. On Saturday, November 18th we are going to bring them the furniture and basic necessities they need to thrive in their home. We are also going to bring items to the oldest daughter’s apartment, who lives close by, as she and her family are struggling as well. Join us!
The Tides Have Turned
Restoring Dignity has remained non-political since we started in 2012, because as far as we were concerned, what we did was a non-political act of charity. However, the tides have turned in America and there is now an active agenda from the Trump Administration to significantly cut the number of refugees who can come to this country. Additionally, this administration has indefinitely suspended a program where refugees are able to apply for their family members to come to America. There are many refugees who still have spouses and children in the camps who are waiting to be reunited. These are families who have had their lives torn apart by war – they are people like you and me who held jobs, got married, had kids, pursued dreams….and lost everything- and now they are unable to apply to have their families join them here. To remain silent at a time like this is something that we cannot do. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” And this is something that matters. Regardless of whether you are a Republican, Democrat, Independent, etc, this is not a party issue. This is a human issue. Standing up for refugees is something that all people of all parties should do. May we never forget that the United States is a country of immigrants and refugees. May we never forget that each of us is here in this country because our ancestors came here as foreigners from another land. May we never lose our compassion for those who are suffering. Never. Not in the name of fear. Not in the name of nationalism. The Statue of Liberty, our beautiful symbol of America, calls us to be true to who we are as Americans. Inscribed on that beautiful statue is the following:
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
We are taking action on Saturday, November 18th, 2017 from 10am-4pm, to provide this family with much needed household, cleaning and organizational items. Come join us to bring hope, encouragement, and blessings to them!
We have all of the furniture and supplies we need to help this family! Volunteer help on Saturday, November 18th is our biggest need.
- Saturday, November 18th, 2017, at the family’s home:
- Transportation: 8am-10am: This shift involves loading items onto trucks at the storage facility, and unloading them at the family’s home. This requires the use of your vehicle and we prefer trucks and trailers, if possible. Please contact us to let us know if you can provide a truck and/or trailer for this project.
- Shift one: 10am-12pm : This shift is for people who want to help with cleaning and prepping the home for when the furniture is brought in.
- Shift two: 12pm-2pm: This shift is for people who want to help with bringing in the furniture and organizing.
- Shift three: 2pm-4pm: This shift is for people who want to help with decorating the apartment.
- Half Day: 10am-2pm: This shift is for someone who is looking for an immersion with Restoring Dignity and/or wants to be a project leader.
- Half Day: 12pm-4pm: This shift is for someone who is looking for an immersion with Restoring Dignity and/or wants to be a project leader.
- Full Day: 10am-4pm: This shift is for someone who is looking for a full-immersion with Restoring Dignity and/or wants to be a project leader.
- Handyperson shifts: This shift is for a person who is skilled with tools, can help fix broken items in the home, can assemble beds and other furniture, and can hang pictures.
How to Get Involved:
There are several ways that you can get involved immediately:
- Donate items:
We could not do these projects without our donors! They are the heart of these projects! At the beginning of each project, our current Restoring Dignity event page is updated with a list of needed items. Via this page you can sign-up to donate items. Our storage facility is open on select Saturdays prior to each project date, and you can drop off donations at that time. If you have a large donation and need an alternate day and time to drop it off, please contact Hannah Wyble (402) 305-8139 or email: email@example.com. We accept new or gently used items that can be used in the homes of the refugees that we serve. Your donations truly do make an immediate and tangible impact on families in need in the Omaha area!
For all of our projects, we need a minimum of 40 volunteers, ideally 50-60, spaced out over the course of the day. Our volunteers will clean, organize, steam bed bugs in mattresses and in corners, and decorate. The more volunteers, the faster we can accomplish our goal. We would love to have you join our team! You can sign up to volunteer at our current Restoring Dignity event page.
- Donate Monetarily
As Restoring Dignity has grown so have our basic operating expenses. We now have our own storage facility where we accept, sort and store all of our donations. We pay monthly rent and utilities and are dependent on the financial contributions that we receive. If you are interested in making a monetary donation and have any questions, please contact Hannah Wyble (402) 305-8139 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to mail a check please address it to:
Refugee Empowerment Center c/o Restoring Dignity
3610 Dodge St #100
Omaha, NE 68131
Refugee Empowerment Center (a 501(c)3 non-profit organization) serves as the fiscal agent for Restoring Dignity, meaning that they accept donations on our behalf and provide us with accounting services. All donations are 100% tax deductible and a donation letter will be sent via mail. Checks must be made out to “Refugee Empowerment Center” with “Restoring Dignity” written in the memo. All monetary donations remain in a separate Restoring Dignity account at Refugee Empowerment Center.
- Donate Gift Cards
On the day of our projects, we often run low on basic cleaning supplies, hardware for hanging curtains, light bulbs, paper towels, toilet paper, and plastic bed wraps to keep down bed bug populations, among other items. Gift cards to major home stores or hardware stores (Target, Walmart, Lowes, Home Depot, etc) are greatly appreciated and help to bridge the supply gap on project days. Contact Hannah (email@example.com) or (402) 305-8139, if you are interested in donating a gift card. If you would like to mail a gift card, please address it to:
Refugee Empowerment Center c/o Restoring Dignity
3610 Dodge Street #100
Omaha, NE, 68131
- Mentor a refugee family
Did you know that hundreds of refugee families are resettled in Omaha every year? If each of them had an American family who could provide mentorship for at least one year, many of the issues that Restoring Dignity steps in to help with could be avoided. If you are interested in mentoring a refugee family, contact Refugee Empowerment Center and ask about their “First Friends” mentorship program.
- Spread the word:
Tell your friends and family about this project! They might have an extra lamp or a dresser that is no longer in use. Re-post this website on your Facebook page, or email it to people you know. More people knowing about these projects = more donations and volunteers.
FOLLOW US ON FACEBOOK:
Restoring Dignity has a Facebook Group that is regularly updated. Please join our group: Restoring Dignity Omaha Facebook Group.
Hannah Wyble, lead organizer
Call or text: 402-305-8139
- Email: RestoringDignity@live.com