Friday, June 27, 2008


A big thank you to James Horan and Anders Snyder of Lutheran Family Services Refugee and Asylee programs and to Margaret Htoo, formerly of Mae La camp, for their excellent presentations at the in-service training last night.

James did an outstanding job of explaining the latest developments in refugee resettlement, particularly regarding the events in Nepal/Bhutan and Iraq. Anders's slide show helped the group get an idea of the situation on the Burma-Thailand border. These compelling images also illustrated Margaret's personal perspective on the life of the Karen people.

Thanks to the volunteers and Emily Griffith staff who took the time to hear this incredibly interesting and helpful presentation. Although the group in attendance was very small, interest and participation were notably high!

CNN explains Mae La and the Karen

In case you missed it, CNN recently put up a great Website about the Karen in Mae La Camp in Thailand. Click here to access the story. This information might be of interest to anyone who wonders “Who are the Karen and why are they here?”

The site includes:
  • A news story
  • Three videos
  • A slideshow (with Karen folk singing—you might want to start with the volume on “low.”
  • An “explainer” with maps and statistical information
  • Historical backgrounder on the plight of the Karen people

  • You can navigate using the red tabs just above the story, or the embedded links within the story itself. Each section is fairly short, so there isn’t too much information to overwhelm you. This is very informative, accessible, and interesting!

    A handy map of Burmese camps

    If your student is from Burma, you might find it helpful to have a map of the Burmese-Thai border. UNHCR has produced a map showing the location of all of the UNHCR camps where Burmese refugees are currently housed. Most of Denver's Burmese are coming from Mae La camp, close to the city of Mae Sot.

    You can access the map by clicking here. It prints very nicely in color.

    Wednesday, June 25, 2008

    Fill your head with knowledge!

    Mark your calendar!

    Thursday, June 26
    6:00 - 8:30 p.m.
    Inservice Training for CRESL Home tutors
    Emily Griffith opportunity School
    1250 Welton St.

    Topic: Who's coming to Denver?

    New Expected and Arriving Refugee Populations 2008-2009

    Presenters: James Horan, director, and Anders Snyder, community Outreach Coordinator, Lutheran Family Services' Refugee and Asylee Programs in Denver

    Join us for the evening and learn about the newest refugee groups coming to Colorado. Where are they from? What is their history? What lead to their refugee situation?

    James and Anders have extensive experience working the front lines of refugee resettlement in Denver. Anders spent some time in a Burmese camp in Thailand. James is among the first in Colorado to receive new and updated information about the refugee populations in our state. There will be ample time allowed for your questions!

    Tentatively scheduled: An additional presentation about the Burmese Karen, their culture and life as refugees in Thailand and in the U.S.

    If you would like to attend this informative evening, please RSVP to Sharon at

    The Girl Effect

    I invite you to share in a five-minute food-for-thought snack. You'll feel a sense of fullness you didn't expect. I encourage you to also click on the two orange links at the bottom of the presentation screen: About and Fact Sheet, as well as any other links that appear.

    After the initial presentation, not the "Learn, Change, Share" logo on the upper left side of the screen. Please click on the words for more information and some insightful videos. If you can't see anything in this post, go to

    As a participant in a program that has a huge stake in the education of women, I hope that you find inspiration in this short presentation (about two minutes).

    Wednesday, June 18, 2008

    Beds, pillows, sheets, etc.

    The influx of refugees being resettled in the U.S. has increased quite a bit recently. The resettlement agencies are really in need of furnishings for the refugees' apartments. today I received this message from Genevieve Cruz at Ecumenical Refugee Service. If you can help, please contact Ecumenical directly:

    Please help me spread the word to our friends and family that the Ecumenical Refugee & Immigration Services is in desperate need of single beds, bunk-beds, pillows and bedding. We have a high volume of single people coming over the next few months. We originally were not a site that handled single refugees, but more and more we're asked by our government to take them, especially from Burma and Iraq.

    If you are in a position to help, please contact our donations coordinator, Joyce Hanson at 303-860-0128, ext 130. Leave a name and phone number for a scheduled pickup (we'll come and get it!). All donations are tax deductible!

    Thanks again and take care,

    Genevieve Cruz/ERIS
    Director or Sponsorship & Development
    Volunteer/Internship Coordinator
    303-860-0128 x112

    Wednesday, June 4, 2008

    Don't forget!!!

    It is time to report your tutoring hours for the month of May. Please don't forget! I need to know your hours absolutely no later than Friday, June 6 at noon.

    Email is fine! Just to reiterate: I can count any actual contact time you had with your student (including telephone time), but not your planning or travel time.

    Your target time should be a minimum of 8 hours of contact time per month! If your student has been cancelling a lot of your scheduled lessons, please let me know. The students know that they, too, are required to put in some time and effort.

    As always, thanks so much for the wonderful work you do! I look forward to receiving your email messages in the next few days.


    Events: World Refugee Day & UN Day Against Torture

    Click picture to enlarge

    What is World Refugee Day?
    The United Nations General Assembly designated June 20 as World Refugee Day as a way to recognize and celebrate the contribution of refugees throughout the world. World Refugee Day is an annual commemoration marked by events in over a hundred countries. This year, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) will commemorate World Refugee Day with the inspirational theme: “To Feel at Home,” to draw the public’s attention to the millions of refugees worldwide who have been forced to flee their homes. Click here to go to the official site.

    UN Day Against Torture
    Rehabilitation centers and programs and human rights organizations around the world celebrate the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture on June 26. The day reminds us that torture is a crime and provides us with an opportunity to stand united and voice our opinion against torture, a cruel violation of human rights.

    The International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims has selected “Help us erase torture” as the theme of the 2008 global campaign. The goal is to encourage all people to think of actions that they and others can take to eradicate the man-made scourge of torture from our world.

    The IRCT has also published a photo book (also available as a slideshow online) as part of the 2008 day of commemoration. You can access the slideshow via the Website, or click here to see the book.

    Encouraging healthy habits!

    One issue that frequently comes up in this program is the need for nutrition education among refugees. When someone has spent years "doing without," the vast array of food in supermarkets here can be overwhelming. There is also a strong tendency to buy foods that are advertised on TV, junk food, and foods with a lot of sugar. Heart disease and diabetes are just two of the health conditions that are soaring among the resettled refugee populations in the Untied States.

    The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants has published a nutrition education toolkit that is specifically targeted to the refugee population. The language is simple, the illustrations reflect the population served, and everything in it can be used to teach your food-related lessons! Did I mention it's free?

    The materials come in many languages, so if your student is literate, you could work with the materials in English and then provide a translated copy for the student to use at home. Some of the languages available are: Arabic, Amharic, Burmese, Karen, Farsi, French, Kirundi, Somali, Swahili, Russian, Vietnamese. There is even a 16"x20" poster you can reduce to 8"x10" so it will fit on regular paper. The poster shows what a balanced diet looks like.

    Other materials (and they are fabulous!) include an eight-page brochure outlining different aspects of healthy eating, the poster, and a flipchart book for teachers to use. You could easily print out the flip book, three-hole punch it, put it in a binder and use it as a teaching tool. The link to download the flip book is right under the picture of it.

    To see and download any of the materials, click here.