Refugee Impact at Indivisible Petaluma: Latest Refugee Updates

Wednesday, September 18 6:30 PM: Indivisible Petaluma General Meeting (825 Middlefield Dr, Petaluma CA).

Refugee Impact will share our work with people living as refugees in Greece, along with some of the latest situational updates from the region coming from MB’s on-the-ground work this summer. We will also cover as parallels with the current disastrous policies on the US southern border. All happening at the Indivisible Petaluma general meeting. Come join us for this conversation and the latest from Indivisible too!

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MB's Fourth Trip to Greece

MB Leland returned from five weeks serving in refugee camps on the island of Lesvos, Greece, as well as helping families on the mainland. There, she distributed aid donated from Refugee Impact supporters, delivered food and supplies in refugee camps, connected families to local support projects and more.

Her favorite experience was bringing children (and adults) into the water to experience the peace and tranquility if can offer. "This is the first time they have been in the water since they almost died in it,” MB explained. “Helping them establish a new relationship with the sea is my way of helping them process the trauma of running for their lives, only to land in a refugee camp that some feel is worse than the war they left behind."

The Schoolbox Project's 7 Days of Action to Protect Immigrant Communities

Refugee Impact participated in The Schoolbox Project’s 7 Days of Action to protect immigrant and Latinx communities currently under attack and to #stopfamilyseparation. The Schoolbox Project is a terrific Sonoma County group bringing trauma informed programming to children in refugee camps and crisis situations. Are you ready for the challenge? Join us! Find out more at www.schoolboxproject.org and on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/theschoolboxproject/.

Fractal Art Refugee Benefit Sale at the Petaluma Art & Garden Festival

More than 15,000 women, men and children have died crossing the Mediterranean Sea in the last several years, most fleeing violence and looking for a safe home. Sonoma County artist and activist Eric Leland gave 100% of the profits from the sale of his fractal burn art to Refugee Impact’s work to help these people looking for a better life. Made from discarded wood objects, each piece is a one of a kind, and represents hope for precious lives too often overlooked. Eric uses 12,000 volts electricity to burn wandering trails through the wood surface, representing the tremendous energy and lengthy paths followed by people fleeing persecution.

Petaluma Couple Aids Refugees in Greece

Helping families living in squats and refugee camps in Greece and on the island of Lesbos has become a mission for the 44-year-old Leland, who moved from Fairfax to Petaluma in June to teach special education at Sonoma’s Adele Harrison Middle School. She and her husband of 22 years, Eric Leland, 46, support families in limbo through various efforts with Refugee Impact, including the “Refugee Hopelet Project,” where they offer for donations bracelets made by refugees from life jackets they wore during their sea crossings.

Hopelets carry on the message

Over 10,000 refugees have drowned in the 4.1 mile stretch of the Aegean Sea that separates Turkey from the Greek island of Lesvos, while fleeing violence and war in the Middle East and Africa. To this day, they continue to brave the dangerous sea crossing. These “hopelets”, an initiative started by refugee impact volunteers in Greece last summer, are made by refugees and volunteers from parts of the life jackets from the lucky refugees having survived the journey. Hundreds have been sold in Greece, across Europe and the United States. Recently, a Fairfax resident bought 10 to bring to his friends in Germany!

Order Your Hopelets Today!

Elementary school student takes on leadership role in community

The power of youth activism is infectious. Nine year old Sinjin, a Marin County elementary school student, is on a mission and no one can stop him! He’s raised hundreds of dollars and brought classmates on board to support refugees in Greece. He even traveled from the SF Bay area down to LA to attend a leadership conference due to his work with refugees, and has make several public speaking appearances to talk about the cause.

“Virtual” volunteering successfully supports a family in Greece and Syria

Basic healthcare is a luxury most refugees have little access to. Joseph, a refugee living on the streets of Athens, was in critical need of dental care, and due to it being too painful to eat, his health was further deteriorating. Through our on-the-ground network in Greece, we were able to rapidly identify a dentist who provided emergency dental care for Joseph. Additional online volunteering helped raise money to unite a father and his 4 children, one of whom he had never met, as his wife was pregnant when they were separated by ISIS. Finally, when a two children lost their father, who died of a heart attack, while crossing the border from Syria to Turkey, our network contacted lawyers in Europe who negotiated the safe housing of the children in Syria for months until they were reunited with their mom in Germany.

A meal for a meal!

Neighbors in Fairfax came together to cook mason jar meals to the community in exchange for a donation to HOME (online at www.homeforaday.gr). Many neighbors reconnected with one another, and several met for the first time while learning more about the current struggles of refugees stranded in Greece. Hundreds of dollars were raised over the course of several dinners, which was then given to the NGO in Greece and was used to buy food for home cooked meals for refugees living in terrible conditions in refugee camps.