Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Our Monthly UPDATE - newsletter to our donors and friends

I'm pasting a copy of May's UPDATE below. If you would like to subscribe, send us an e-mail to subscribe.crp(at)gmail.com with "subscribe" in the subject line.
Note: We will not barrage you with e-mails. Although we would like to send the UPDATE out monthly, often we send it only every other month.

  • CRP founder and co-director Sasha Crow recently returned from Amman, Jordan - and will return soon
  • Our BLOG from Jordan
  • Volunteers from CODEPINK joined us in Amman
  • Evergreen College students visit Amman and meet with Iraqi refugee young people
  • HEART to HEART ~ HAND to HAND - a new way for you to connect more personally with Iraqi refugees in Jordan
  • Kudos & Shukrun (thank you!)
  • Pashmina shawl sale & fund-raiser
  • Events
  • Misc
  • Please contribute

Message from CRP founder / co-director, Sasha Crow

Dear Friend of CRP

I recently returned from spending three months in Amman, working side-by-side with our Iraqi coordinator, Maha, to deliver assistance to Iraqi refugee families.

Some things had improved since our last visit in November 08 - UNHCR is doing aggressive outreach to register more refugees so that they can be eligible for the small monthly cash grants and other services. More families are receiving the grant and the amount has increased a little. Medical services have expanded. But, despite these improvements, services and support are still woefully inadequate compared to the overwhelming need. The global economic downturn has resulted in higher prices for food and other necessities, hitting those hardest who have so very little.

he one thing that struck me most during this last visit is how mental health has plummeted.

Some of this can certainly be attributed to up to 6 years of existence as refugees after enduring and witnessing horrors in Iraq and in finding themselves in ever-deepening poverty. But much has to do with the fact that many more Iraqis have been resettled to third countries recently and those left behind (especially those who have been denied resettlement) have lost hope of their situations improving or of having the opportunity to improve them themselves. Many who had looked forward in hope to resettlement to the US now either refuse it if offered to them or consider refusing; they have heard from friends and relatives who have been resettled here about the pathetically inadequate support for Iraqi immigrants to the US a
nd that a good many of those already resettled here are "choosing" to return to Iraq rather than face absolute destitution.

With resettlement off the table, they're left with no options of escaping their situation. Most cannot contemplate returning to Iraq as the threats that forced
them to leave are still very real. Even if security does improve, still many do not have homes to return to - they have been destroyed or taken over by others.

They cannot leave Jordan and yet they cannot build lives there. Most feel that there is no way out - of Jordan or from the limitations imposed on them as refugees. They exist in suspended animation somewhere between Hell and Purgatory. And they are losing hope.

All are exhausted. The common complaint I heard is: "I am so tired"

Now, more than ever, Iraqi refugees need your help.

Most days, I shared tears of sorrow and frustration with the many of the families I visited. I told them that I represent many, many others who cannot be there but who remember, who care and respond. I cannot tell you how heartened they are to know that we have not forgotten them. I wish I knew how to share these moments with you so that you could know how much your support and caring means to them. We have just begun a new campaign that we hope will accomplish this.

Part of CRP's mission has always been to facilitate "mutually respectful relationships between Iraqi victims of war and coalition citizens". With our new "HEART to HEART / HAND to HAND campaign, we offer you a chance to be in more direct contact with Iraqi refugees you assist - and for them to learn more about who you are, too. We hope that you will read more about this effort in this UPDATE (below) and on our web site.

I am returning to Amman on June 12 for another three month stay. I hope that you'll respond to this opportunity so that I can carry with me many of your photos and personal notes along with your contributions to bring assistance to more families.

I am also pleased to tell you that I will be accompanied by a good friend - singer/songwriter, Annie Tanner. Annie will be taking her compassionate heart, her talent and her guitar to bring some joy into the homes of refugee families. She will also be joining us in our daily work and sharing refugees' stories and her experiences by contributing to our BLOG.

Finally, I am so grateful to you for allowing me the privilege of representing your caring hearts when we take families the much needed assistance you provide. Thank you

If you haven't already visited our blog, we invite you to read Sasha's posts of her experiences while in Amman from the end of January through April of this year. We will resume our blog reports when we go to Jordan. We share stories of the refugee families we meet, their photos, the challenges they face, and how we use your contributions to respond to those needs.

CODEPINK volunteers joined us in Amman

We were pleased when CODEPINK members, Kit Siemion and Jim Preston joined us as volunteers in Amman for several days after spending time in Gaza. They accompanied Maha and Sasha as they visited families to deliver food assistance and to purchase a Micro-Project for a family.

This is what Kit wrote before they arrived in Jordan to tell us what they hoped to accomplish by joining with us:

Jim and I are committed Peace Activists trying to build bridges of understanding, compassion and hope with people the world over through travel and work. We consider ourselves "citizen diplomats" and believe experiencing a culture and sharing it with others will help foster a sustainable Peace because only the People can create Peace.

We think Kit and Jim did a terrific job of doing what they set out to do!

You can see more photos from their visit with CRP and also photos they took in Gaza HERE , HERE and more HERE

EVERGREEN COLLEGE (Olympia Washington) STUDENTS visit with IRAQI young people in Amman

On May 13th, CRP collaborated with Evergreen College to bring together US students and Iraqi young people together in hope of fostering mutual understanding and facilitate relationship-building. Here is an initial report of the event from one of the Evergreen coordinators:

17 Evergreen students on an educational study-abroad tour organized a gathering with 12 Iraqi refugee student-age young people. The idea was to meet, talk, share a meal together and collaborate in doing something creative. There was initially discussion among the Evergreeners if we should facilitate a panel-dialogue but then the group decided instead to interact through art. This was also due to the concern that our Arabic skills were lacking.
In the morning the shopping crew went to the market to shop for provisions; in the afternoon the cooking crew prepared the meal. Our guests arrived promptly at 6pm and the welcome crew ushered everyone into the lounge at our hotel. The entire group sat in a circle and introduced themselves, Iraqis and Americans alike. Following some discussion and some laughter that broke the ice, the Evergreen students organized a collaborative art workshop. The idea was that the process of painting together would create a "space" where the Iraqi and American students could interact through their mutual creativity. People chatted in small groups, some painted together while others looked on.
While the paint dried, dinner was served and everyone sat down to share a meal together. After dinner, conversations continued, connections were made and many photographs were taken. The group as a whole came to the consensus that the collaborative artwork should be taken back to Olympia to share this evening with the Evergreen campus. The Evergreen students proposed forming a mural with the "panels" of artwork to present to the campus community.

Finally, our Iraqi guests got up to leave and everyone exchanged email addresses. We hope this gathering will be the beginning of continued connection, conversation and dialogue between us and our Iraqi friends.

HEART to HEART ~ HAND to HAND: building a bridge between you and the Iraqi refugee families you assist

Part of CRP's mission has always been to facilitate "mutually respectful relationships between Iraqi victims of war and coalition citizens". With our new "HEART to HEART / HAND to HAND campaign, we offer you a chance to be in more direct contact with Iraqi refugees you assist - and for them to learn more about who you are, too.

Now, when you donate to provide assistance to Iraqi refugees, CRP will hand-deliver your photos and personal messages to assistance recipients so that they know the names and faces of those who help them. In exchange, we will send you photos and personal messages back from them.

You can choose to send your messages and photos to us electronically - by e-mail or you can send them to us through the US Postal Service. If sending through the mail, it would be especially nice to send your message in a greeting card.

Find out how you can participate by visiting our web site HERE

Kudos and 'Shukrun' ("thank you" in Arabic)

to the congregation of East Shore Unitarian Church of Bellevue, Washington for contributing over $2000 through their Easter offering. These funds will make a huge difference in the lives of many Iraqi refugees in Amman. Only a portion of this contribution has already provided Micro-Projects for three families and given a wheelchair and other health-related supplies for an elderly disabled man. More refugee families will be benefiting from East Shore's generosity soon.

Thank you / Shukrun, EAST SHORE congregation!

This just goes to prove how a group of people, each contributing a little, can make a significant difference to others who are less fortunate

We hope others will be inspired by East Shore. Will you please consider asking your faith-communities, family members, co-workers and other affinity group members to join together to raise funds to help an Iraqi refugee family? Even a little provides a family with necessities they cannot afford - such as medicine and food.

for more information about how your group can help a family, please CONTACT US

Our Pashmina Shawl fund-raising sale was a success

Sasha brought over 100 Pashmina shawls back that she picked up in the souks (market places) in Amman. CRP held its first Pashmina sale in Ashland Oregon last weekend, nearly selling out of shawls and bringing in over $2000 for our refugee assistance projects!

Our thanks to all who attended and supported our work through their purchases!

We still have around 20 shawls - available for only $20 donation. If you live in the Medford/Ashland vicinity and missed our sale, you can contact us to arrange an appointment to see the shawls.

We hope to hold another Pashmina sale this autumn after Sasha and Annie return from Amman with their suitcases bulging with more shawls. We hope to make this a twice-yearly event.


Taos NM 5/26-6/2
World Peace Week
CRP outreach liasion, Karen Jones of Seattle will give a presentation: Forgotten: Bringing hope to Iraqi Refugees in Jordan - How a Grassroots Project is helping Iraqi families in crisis

Eugene OR 5/29-30
Lane Peace Conference Peace and Collective Action: Connecting Hope and Change
CRP co-directors, Mary Madsen and Sasha Crow will present: Iraqi Refugees - forgotten in Limbo. Will include: overview of the Iraqi refugee crisis, film of interviews with Iraqi refugees in Jordan, problem-solving session, and Q & A

Seabeck WA 7/2-5
Seabeck Regional Conference
- Western WA Fellowship of Reconciliation: Building a Just and Sustainable World
CRP outreach liasion, Karen Jones will be presenting on the Iraqi refugee crisis and Collateral Repair Project's response. More info available later


We need donations of crayons and water colors to take with us to Jordan to give as gifts to children when we visit refugee families. We need about 20 more of each.
Please send them to:
CRP c/o Madsen

1800 Poplar Drive # 6
Medford, OR 97504

Cookbook Project - A Celebration of Iraqi Culture
We are excited about our project to create a cookbook of Iraqi recipes with recipes shared with us by Iraqi refugee women. Iraqi refugees spend much of their time focusing on their challenges and losses. With this project, we hope to offer them an opportunity to celebrate on one important aspect of their rich culture - it's food. The book will include recipes for mains through desserts with photos of the women making their dishes - accompanied with personal stories of each of the Iraqi women who contribute. We will also include their memories of the foods they cook and Iraqi food-lore and customs. We hope to be able to have the cookbook ready
in late autumn of 09 for purchase in time for your holiday giving.

In these uncertain times when we are forced to be more attentive to our own needs, please remember those whose lives have been irrevocably damaged in our names and whose resources are gone.

Your contribution - no matter how large or small - makes a difference

Please contribute

Collateral Repair Project is a project of International Humanities Center