Monday, December 27, 2010

You've Made All of This Possible!

Dear Friends of Collateral Repair Project

One of the blessings of being such a small organization is that we become intimately involved with those we assist, becoming “extended family”. We want each and every one of you to feel included in this far-away family, too, because without you, we could not be here.

One of the drawbacks of our size is that we operate with a bare-bones staff. The time we spend in our work on the ground prevents us from making regular updates to inform you about our projects and how your support is reaching Iraqi refugees in need. We’d like to take the opportunity now to let you know more about what you have accomplished this year.

2010 and our 4th year of our work with Iraqi refugees in Jordan is winding to an end. This has been a challenging year for us as donations have decreased while the situation for Iraqi refugees here is worsening. There were times we were uncertain if we would be operating from one month to the next, but, through your continued generosity, even in these rough times, we’ve endured. We, on behalf of those you have helped, thank you warmly for your continued support. Truly, we cannot do it without you!

With love and best wishes for a more peaceful new year..... from Sasha, Mary, Ghazwan, Marilyn & Karen

We shall find peace. We shall hear angels, we shall see the sky sparkling with diamonds
This year, Iraqi refugees in Jordan will need your support more than ever. Please help.

This has been a tumultuous year in Iraq with increasing violence and insecurity. Iraqis are still fleeing for their lives but a major difference we are seeing this year is that, unlike years previous, most of the new arrivals come with little or no savings. Another difference is that it is no longer as relatively easy for new arrivals to get the vital UNHCR monthly financial assistance that Iraqis (barred from employment as non-residents) must rely on to pay for their most basic needs. Now, after registering as Asylum Seekers, they must wait many months to find out if they will be accepted as “refugees” and, until they get this determination, they are not eligible to receive this critically necessary financial assistance.

Imagine fleeing your country for your lives, bringing nothing but suitcases of your clothes and then, finally reaching safety, having no way to pay rent or even buy food. This is what happened to Um Mohammed, who arrived 2 months ago with her two children and only $7!

Because of this change in UNHCR policy, we are now constantly getting pleas to help pay rent, buy food, and basic necessities such as blankets and heaters.  Due to this devastating situation and our budget limitations, we are now providing our Emergency Assistance almost solely to help these families. We have great concern as their numbers are increasing as our and other organizations’ resources are dwindling. The need is far beyond our capacity to help but we must do what we can.
has paid back-rent and utilities for many families this year as well as providing food, blankets, sleeping mats, fans and second-hand refrigerators (in summer) and heaters with fuel now that it’s winter. We have helped with hospital bills and purchasing medication. We have also purchased school supplies, books and shoes for children whose parents had no money to purchase them - and much, much more.

In only the past few days....
We visited 36 year old Hussein. He and his elderly mother arrived in Jordan in mid-October. Hussein was working in Baghdad city maintenance when a car pulled up and three masked men with Kalashnikovs and rifles jumped out and opened fire on him, presumably because he was of a minority sect in his neighborhood. They left him for dead with 9 bullets riddling his body - one exiting through and destroying his left eye. He survived but is now paraplegic. When we asked what resources they brought with them to Jordan, he told us that he sold the only thing he had left of any value -his electric wheelchair - for $400. They used this money to travel and to pay two months’ rent in advance on their tiny, substandard apartment and to buy food. Hussein was given a dilapidated manual wheelchair that is missing one arm-rest, putting him at risk of falling out. There is no room in the apartment to maneuver the chair anyway, nor can he use it to go outside in the narrow access that has many steps. He must spend his entire time in bed, never leaving home, and rely on his frail mother for his personal care. He has a regular twin bed and his mother has piled blankets and a small end table behind his shoulders to allow him to sit upright. Now their rent is coming due again and they still do not receive financial assistance.

Hussein and his mother need to move into another apartment that will allow Hussein to escape the confines he endures now. He needs a functional, safe wheelchair and hospital bed. They need money for rent and food.

Abu Haider called us for help. He and his wife have three children - two have Thalasseemia Major - a blood disorder that requires several thousand dollars in medications each month to keep the children alive. This family must survive on approximately $300 a month UNHCR financial assistance. UNHCR, because of their budget cutbacks, ended paying for Thalasseemia treatment this year. With so little income, the parents literally beg to pay for medication for their children - and they never get enough money to pay for the full regime of drugs their children need.

When Abu Haider called, it was to ask if we could help pay rent for them to move into a different apartment. The recent rains had cause the entire ceiling in their flat to cave in, barely missing  the mother. They had to move but had no money. We were able to pay for the half month’s rent they needed until they receive their financial assistance. Although it seems like an impossibility, we are trying to find a donor or institution that will provide the two children with bone marrow transplants ($200.000 per child) as this would be the only cure for this disease and assure that they will survive. We must try.

Semira is an elderly woman living alone. Militia entered her home in Iraq, setting her and her father on fire after beating them severely. Her father did not survive the attack. Semira, as a single person, receives only approximately $100 per month financial assistance. Her rent is $70. The remainder must pay for utilities, food, medications and transportation to her doctor appointments. She lives in a tiny very substandard apartment that had huge areas of wall missing. Rain poured in, flooding her home. The missing wall areas made it impossible to heat - but she had no heater. She also had no stove to cook on and would have to go to a neighbor’s home, just to heat water for tea. CRP provided her with a kerosene heater that she could also cook on - as well as 20 liters of kerosene. We also hired our Iraqi handy-man to enclose the open wall areas and reinforce the roof as water was beginning to leak in the deteriorating ceiling, risking it falling in on her.

With your support, we can help more people in crisis who truly have no one else they can turn to

Last winter, you purchased over 500 coats for children - from toddlers to teens. We hope that you will help us to meet our goal to keep 1000 kids warm this winter. For only $10, you can give a child a coat!

Warshat al-Amal (HOPE WORKSHOP) creates beautiful, functional and GREEN products entirely from recycling throw-way plastic bags! Their products include purses, tote bags and bath/kitchen mats. Lucy, a US volunteer who worked with the women here last summer to begin the co-op, is working on a web site for their products (still under construction)

Our 2010 party was a huge success. The children made Valentines, played games, had their faces painted, and even broke open pinatas to scramble for toys and candies. Every child received a gift bag. We also had a raffle for their parents and every family won a prize!

Iraqi refugees do not have funds to purchase cameras or pay for studio portraits. Some have now spent years in exile, their children growing quickly, with no visual record of them during these years. We scheduled “studio days” and had families sit for portraits that we printed to 8x10 size for them to take home.

Cloth Diapers for Babies:
Cloth diapers are impossible to find in Jordan. Everyone uses disposables - devastating to the environment and too costly for refugee parents to purchase. Parents end up cutting back on food or other family needs in order to diaper their babies. We are developing a project to hire Iraqi women to sew cloth diaper sets for newborns and older babies from patterns. We have a small amount of “seed money” to purchase initial materials with but still need to buy a couple of sewing machines, more fabric as we need it, and funds to pay the women who will sew them.

Co-operative Play Group
A new project that is just getting off the ground that was initiated by an Iraqi mother to bring mothers and their young children together to share fun and learning activities at CRP Center. Mothers will take turns creating and leading activities and, at the same time, building new friendships that will hopefully flourish outside of the center. CRP will provide the space, snacks, toys, books and craft supplies.

Milk for Kids:
We were providing infant formula for mothers who could not nurse and to vulnerable babies with compromised health - as well as powdered milk for young children. Although this was a worthwhile project, we made the hard choice to discontinue it because of its high cost and our budget constraints. We were only able to enroll a small percentage of the many families who applied

Parents who are struggling to feed their children cannot afford to provide them with toys. When we visit families, we take small gifts to every child age 12 and under. Favorites are crayons, paints and coloring books, light-up magic wands, harmonicas, riding balls, fairy wings, and hand-held video games. We bring the crayons and watercolor sets that have been donated to us in the US. The other toys are purchased wholesale here, at less than $1 each. A small amount to pay for a lot of joy.

Not all assistance we provide costs money. We often contact UNHCR to inform them of extremely dire situations and are often successful in accelerating getting help for their cases. We have built relationships with many of the large, international NGOs and we coordinate with them, working together to provide more holistic assistance to families in need. We refer individuals who need counseling to mental health and torture survival counseling centers. We sometimes also mediate with landlords, convincing them to be patient while our clients wait to be eligible for financial assistance if we are unable to pay the full amount of past-due rent. We also work with families to create budgets to help them learn to get by as best they can on their small financial assistance grants. We brainstorm with families to create solutions for other problems they encounter and check in with them periodically to check the status of their situations and provide more support if needed. We build intimate, enduring relationships with Iraqi refugees; they know they can count on us to care and help them the best we are able.  We cannot do it without you.


We are pleased to announce that, in April, we opened the doors of our humble community center and it has become a “second home” (as described by many Iraqis who participate in its activities and classes). Opening this center gives us the opportunity to expand our services beyond only assistance and to benefit a large number of Iraqis at relatively small cost.

Throughout the summer, every Saturday, two groups of children (ages 3-7 and 8-14) attended these activities - creating art projects and learning simple rhythms while playing drums, harmonicas, and rattles. We held a big party at the local community hall for the children and their parents at the end of summer with an exhibit of their artwork along with games and face-painting. Every child received a certificate of participation and a gift package of art supplies to take home.

We are grateful to our volunteer English teachers for allowing us to offer classes in several levels of competency for adults and even a preschool English course!

Many Iraqi young people are sitting at home, unable to attend school or work, without opportunities to socialize with peers or learn new skills.  We’ve recently begun art classes for young people, ages 13 to 24. Our  first course is in the technique of collage.  We’ll be holding more classes in other mediums throughout the year.

Before war destroyed the tranquility of their lives and having to flee from their home communities into exile, Iraqi men would socialize with other men by meeting in coffee shops to drink coffee and play dominoes - somewhat like Poker night in the US.  Iraqi men in Jordan are often isolated from other men and have no escape from the pressures of trying to care for their families on next to nothing. Domestic violence and depression have become epidemic. CRP has recreated this social outlet on Sunday nights with Men’s Dominoes Night. Men of all sects and religions come together in camaraderie to play Dominoes, drink coffee, smoke nargila, and to relax, sharing laughter and conversation. Many deep friendships have developed between the men and they now socialize with one another outside of Dominoes Night.

One room of our center is dedicated for donations of gently used clothing and household items. Those in need can take what they need for their families at no cost.

Without enough money to pay for their families’ needs, purchasing books is a luxury no one can afford. We’ve opened a small lending library with books in all genres for adults and children. Books are expensive here and our library is very limited at this time. Please consider contributing to help us purchase more books.

We have held socials where English language learners and those with some proficiency can come together for fun evenings of food and practice in conversational English with native speaker volunteers.

Computer Learning Center:
Our big dream for 2011 is to open a computer learning center with a minimum of ten computers. Most Iraqis have had no experience at all with computers. With families separated from one another, often by continents, inexpensive communication by e-mail or chat can keep loved ones in touch. For those who will be resettled to a third country and who will be seeking employment, learning basic computer skills is a must as most jobs (and even job search) relies to some degree on computers. The total cost for equipment for this center is $4,000. We will also need to have funds to hire an Iraqi instructor. We hope you can help make this dream come true.

Movie Nights:
Another dream is to obtain a large tv and DVD player so we can have “movie nights/days” for all ages. We’d like to increase the number of social opportunities by hosting viewings of sports events (for men and teen boys), children’s videos, teen video night, craft instruction, etc - and to be able to provide in Arabic on health, parenting skills, pre-natal care, and other topics that can increase awareness and skills.

As many of you know, Collateral Repair Project has been able to offer you tax deductions for your contributions by being a project under International Humanities Center (IHCenter). IHCenter has always charged us a fee for this service but this year they raised their fee to 10% of amounts donated. We felt that this was too large of a percentage being taken away from those your generosity was meant to help. We have now filed our Articles of Incorporation as a stand-alone nonprofit organization and now 100% of your giving goes directly to our projects for Iraqi refugees.  We are working with our CPA to obtain 501.c.3.  In the meantime, while our application is pending, IRS,“in good faith”, allows your contributions  to be tax-deductible
***If writing a check for your donation, from now on please make the check out Collateral Repair Project or CRP only. ***Questions about our tax status?: contact us

New Web Site:
We are renovating our web site - actually doing a complete make-over. Our old site had become cluttered and we wanted to create a site that is easy to navigate and gives you the most current information about our work easily. Sasha is our web master as well as working full-time on the ground in Jordan so renovations are going slowly. Please check into our site once in a while to see its progress and to find out about our most current work

Facebook Causes: Collateral Repair Project. We want to thank all of you who have joined our Cause in the past and donated or dedicated your birthday to raising funds for our projects. However, now we ask you not to give through Causes because they take a large percentage of every donation.  Also, our FB Cause was associated to International Humanities Center and we are no longer a project of IHCenter. If you give now, CRP will not receive it. Please, if you want to give, do so through our web site or by check so that 100% of your contribution goes to our projects.

We always need volunteer English teachersand tutors at our Amman Center. If you are a native or skilled English speaker and you are in Amman (or plan to be), please contact us.

Want to help with our web site? You do not need to know HTML - our site is being built with an online site building program that is very simple. Check out (our site host) to get an idea of how it works and then, if interested, please contact us.

We need someone/s to manage our Facebook page and group - adding content once a week at minimum. Volunteer/s would be in contact with Sasha in Jordan who will give you links to pertinent articles as well as updates on our current work and families who need assistance. Contact us if interested.

Our Iraqi Women’s Craft Co-op needs volunteer marketers in the USA and beyond. If you think you can help, please contact us.

We have been blessed with wonderful volunteers who have spent time at our center in Jordan, sharing their skills and friendship with Iraqis we serve. We cannot thank you enough! Our deepest gratitude to:

Meera Shanti    Lucy Perkins    Liz Brasington    Farhana Esmail    Mickey Hubbard    Ross Wingo    Taiyo    Hanin   Samia Qumri    Rawan Arar    Ally Hawkins    Samira Kheirallah (with colleagues & friends)      Michelle Munjanattu    Ian    Ben Woodman ~ and more   

We also want to thank those of you in the USA who have pitched in and helped raise awareness and funds for our projects or donated items for us to bring to Jordan to give to Iraqis. You are terrific! Thank you on behalf of those whose hearts and needs have been filled by your generosity of spirit:

Sherian Garcia - who, with her daughter make “newborn kits” to give as welcoming gifts

Our Pacific Northwest Knitters (Bethel, Liz, Jane, Rachel, Libby, Nancy, Marisa...and others we may not know to include personally) for knitting scores of lovely warm hats to distribute to Iraqis in Jordan

David Albert & Ellen Sawislak - and Friends - who contributed boxes of craft supplies, crayons, water colors, harmonicas, recorders, start-up funds for our diaper project, contibuted to our lending library and for sending their daughter, Meera, to volunteer with us. We especially thank them for opening their home and welcoming into their Olympia Washington community to sponsor Ahmed in his resettlement to the USA when he arrived there just this week!

Carmen Schmidt & husband - for translation and offering terrific ideas for craft projects for our kids’ classes

Tracy Early - who initiated a project to link Iraqi children here with the students in  her son’s classroom. Jack and his classmates made drawings and sent a class photo to share with their new friends here. We took these drawings and photo to a school that is sponsored by UNICEF - along with gift bags containing art supplies for each of the 104 Iraqi students.  These students made drawings to send back to the US school - and sent their class photo as well. We hope this is just the beginning of a long friendship.

Mateo Watts - for creating his wonderful “peace garden” of zinnias that he sold at his local Farmers Market to raise funds for our projects and to purchase supplies for our Young Adult Art Classes. Thank you, Mateo, for your big heart and your support!

Yusra - who will be celebrating her 6th birthday on December 19 and instead of expecting gifts for herself, she has asked those she’s invited to her party to give to buy clothes and toys for three Iraqi girls here who have nothing. A little girl with a big, big heart! Thank you kisses to Yusra and Happy Birthday!

Nahoko Takato - who has dedicated her life to raising awareness of the devastation of war on Iraq and its people and who works tirelessly to bring relief to Iraqis both inside and out of Iraq for her generous contribution that is providing a tutor, school supplies and clothes to a young Iraqi girl - and much, much more

Hussein al-Alak / Iraq Solidarity Committee & Combat Stress UK - for his friendship and for raising funds and awareness of our work - our gratitude!

Mori D Samel-Garloff, Joanne Navikas & friends - for organizing political caroling each Christmas while collecting donations for CRP

Debbie Rodriguez / OASIS RESCUE - for sending a beauty-shop-in-a-box to one of our Iraqi women who resettled to the US and needed supplies to do hair and make-up for her neighbors so she could earn money to help feed her family during this difficult time of adjustment to their new country

Lucy Perkins - special thanks for helping to initiate HOPE WORKSHOP (our Iraqi women’s craft co-op), for marketing and creating a web site for them and their products.

Karen Ahern - for taking on selling our Pashmina shawls to raise funds for our work - as well as our Iraqi Women’s Craft co-op products.

All of you who spent time, clipping magazine images and sending them to us to use in our Teen/Young adult collage class - thank you! The kids are having a great time with the clippings.

Karen B Jones - CRP Outreach Liaison volunteer in Seattle who tirelessly works wonders creating fun fundraisers that bring many people together to support our work. Thank you, Karen!

Marilyn Costamagna - who is our volunteer behind-the-scenes miracle woman, running errands, putting together all of our thank you and holiday cards, operating our informational tables, and basically keeping our loose ends from fraying!  We couldn’t do it without you, Marilyn - thank you!

Anonymous Angels - several of you have responded personally, contributing to help specific families in a big way when you have read about them through our Facebook postings. Your help has vastly improved the lives of these families. Our deepest gratitude to you for reaching out with a helping hand and with your friendship.

We appreciate YOU - the many unnamed angels who have donated throughout the year. You keep our programs going and the hope alive for so many.  We are deeply appreciative of the continued support of individuals like you. Your support nourishes the lives of those who struggle daily for basic necessities of food, shelter and dignity. When you plan your year end, tax deductible charitable giving, please remember the many Iraqi refugees who need our help
Our gratitude and warmest wishes for a new year bright with joy and filled with peace

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