Much has changed. It is freezing and wet, the heating is broken, the basement is full of sewage, they and a big brawl in the camp last night among the residents. But they have some new rooms inside the warehouse and they just had the ribbon cutting ceremony for single men's facilities in the top floor of part of the warehouse that can house 70 men (periwinkle blue hallways).
Tomorrow I will meet with Jess, Lisa's second in command, to get the pictures figured out and find out who is still here in the camp. Then we will do mandalas with them for several hours. I saw several familiar faces. I'm eager to touch base with them.
THE NEXT DAY:
I wish I could have taken a picture of the line of 10-12 people crowded into the small office and huddling in front of Jess' desk waiting to ask for blankets and sleeping bags, etc. Very colorful, very tense. It is miserable for everyone right now. Jess is handling it well and hopes to survive until Lisa returns. (She only left yesterday).
The Emerald Project is a Utah-based organization that carefully designs dialogues to engage with non-Muslims to make Salt Lake Valley a more welcoming home to Muslims. As many of our refugee friends belong to the Muslim faith, we applaud opportunities that foster understanding and were pleased to support The Emerald Project’s 3rd annual “Slam the Islamophobia” event on February 15th.
Refugees often risk their lives crossing deserts, jungles, and oceans all in the search for shelter, freedom, or happiness. Yet, even once they’ve reached physical safety, mental mountains emerge that make daily life an uphill climb. At the November 2022 conference for the Utah Chapter of the Society for Public Health Education (USOPHE), presenters Shurooq Al Jewari and Sasha Sloan discussed mental health and inclusion, focusing on immigrants and refugees.
Holidays are an important time to include newcomers. Newcomers are often aching for the traditions and holiday magic they knew at home - and the connections with family and friends. The Garcias* came from a strong family and community that knew generous and giving holiday traditions. I knew, when I met our new friends from Venezuela, the rich bond we would have; this was a kindred spirit family. Even though we have been bad at communicating (Google Translate is such a false hope), it was easy to find connections that helped us love each other.