The Refugee Resettlement program is part of the International Institute of Rhode Island. Our mission is to enable all area residents, especially immigrants and refugees, to become self-reliant, invested participants in our communities, while fostering respect and understanding among all people.
This blog is a means of communication between IIRI and those who are interested in volunteering or helping out with events related to refugee resettlement in Rhode Island. It is also a means of sharing news and stories pertinant to refugees and refugee resettlement.
The following email has circulated around the office, and I figured that I would reach out to the Tumblr community. If you or anyone you know is from Rhode Island and is an immigrant or refugee, share your story! Just send us a message :)
I wanted to reach out to all of you because for the Welcoming RI project we are looking for local immigrants and refugees in RI.
The project involves a pair of 2 Providence College Global studies students interviewing each immigrant/refugee and producing a final story that will be displayed at IIRI along with a portrait canvas photo. The interview will most likely occurring at the beginning of October for 1-2 hours and there will be an opening reception to introduce each immigrant/refugee and their story.
We’re hoping to interview a total of 16 individuals for the project from diverse countries of origin, gender, age, geographic location in RI, and sectors (health, education, business, etc).
National Welcoming Week
September 15th-22nd, 2012
During the week of September 15th, 2012,Welcoming Rhode Island will join 22 other Welcoming America affiliates and partners across the country to participate in National Welcoming Week, a nationwide event that will promote meaningful connections and a spirit of unity between U.S. and foreign-born Americans by providing opportunities to learn about each other and work together for the greater good. Across the country, longtime residents and their new immigrant neighbors will join together during National Welcoming Week to take part in local community events, organized by Welcoming America’s affiliates and other national and local corporate partners, foundations, small businesses and residents of the community.
Throughout the week, Welcoming America’s affiliates will organize local activities that range from arts and culture events to joint service projects, all designed to lift up the positive messages and visibility of National Welcoming Week.
Join Welcoming Rhode Island at our events!
“My Story, Our Community” Art Exhibit
Thursday, September 20, 2012 @ 5-9pm @ Atrium Gallery
35th Rhode Island Heritage Festival
Saturday, September 22, 2012 @ 12-6pm @ Roger Williams Memorial Park
What do Rhode Islanders value? What are some common values that all Rhode Islanders share?
Hello everyone! Right now we are selling international cookbooks to benefit the Refugee Resettlement Dept of IIRI.
We got together the favorite recipes of our refugees, along with pictures of the dishes and information on each country from which they came.
The cookbook is organized by continent and country, giving a little information about each and featuring recipes from countries like Burma, Nepal, Bhutan, Iran, and many others!
Only costs $10
If interested, send me a message on here! Thanks :)
At Roger Williams Park, and the Temple to Music. A huge festival/fair with local food, tents about recycling, local volunteer groups and going green!
IIRI is selling our cookbooks here for $10! Our cookbooks feature recipes from all the refugees we serve, desserts and meals from all over the world!
The fair is 11am to 3pm :)
As you can tell from my bombardment of messages about it, today is World Refugee Day!
Join our celebration at Renaissance Church on Reservoir Ave in Providence (behind the Popeyes Chicken). Event runs from 5-730pm.
It’s a free event! featuring food, song, and dance, prepared by our many wonderful refugees!
After posting that article about the Odari family and refugee health care, it would make sense to teach you a little bit more about the specific history and situation in Nepal and Bhutan.
Why are these people displaced?
Most Bhutanese refugees are descendents of the Nepali people who migrated to Bhutan in search of better farmland in the late 1800s. The Bhutanese, living in a mainly Buddhist country, accepted the Nepali and let them live freely, maintaining their Nepali language, culture, and religion (Hindu), as well as allowing them to work in the government. These rights became protected under Bhutan’s Nationality Law of 1958.
Twenty to thirty years later, however, the Bhutanese leaders became worried of losing power as the Lhotsampa (the Nepali residents in Bhutan) population grew. This concern drove the king of Bhutan to impose the “Bhutanization policies,” which would force the Lhotsampas to adopt Bhutanese culture and tradition as their own. No longer could they speak their native Nepali language, or worship as Hindi.
Under this oppression, the Lhotsampas began to organize politically, and work to keep the freedoms they once had. Seeing this as “subversive and unlawful,” the Bhutanese government proceeded to attack the Lhotsampa population. Their homes were destroyed, they were imprisoned and tortured. They were then forced to sign “voluntary migration certificates” and exiled. From here, thousands of Lhotsampas fled to Nepal and the Indian State of West Bengal. The Lhotsampas can not gain legal citizenship in Nepal, and are restricted to refugee camps. Here they can neither leave, nor can they work.
[Source: Cultural Orientation Resource Center, www.culturalorientation.net]
Refugees end up staying in these camps for years to decades until resettlement agencies, such as IIRI, are able to sponsor them for resettlement.
This article is definitely worth a read! Especially if you are interested in healthcare issues. The first part shares some stories from the Odari family, and the second part is specifically about the Refugee Health Clinic and how we at IIRI work with the clinic! :)
“From refugees, doctors gain a new perspective,” by Karen Lee Ziner, Journal Staff Writer
PROVIDENCE— Nar Odari, a refugee from Bhutan, told the doctors that she missed her cows, her orange grove and her cardamom plants.
Her son, Abi Odari, talked about the religious persecution they experienced as Hindis in a predominantly Buddhist country, which led them to a refugee camp in Nepal. And as he spoke of collisions with the new, such as when he opened an exit door “and the whole building sounded with alarms.” Or how he struggled for words as he searched the supermarket for goat meat and spices.
As part of Refugee Health Week at Hasbro Children’s Hospital, 65 residents spent “heart-and-soul” time listening to these and other stories from people who’d fled war or persecution or natural disasters in their home countries.
One resident, Dr. Michelle McCloskey, was nearly moved to tears when a refugee from Burma described being grabbed out of church by soldiers who forced him to carry their supplies. Eventually, the young man escaped one night when soldiers had been drinking.