Updates from Athens; great news, and where your support is needed
Dear Friends of LERRN,
I hope this finds you healthy, safe and feeling peaceful amid the strange and difficult times we are experiencing.
I would love to hear how you are coping and rising to meet the challenges before us, as individuals, families and communities. As fate would have it, I was in Sacramento, California, when “shelter in place” orders were delivered, so here I continue to be. Though I miss my family (all are well), I am safely and comfortably living in a collaborative space among the women of Shakti Rising. I have found ways to connect with and serve the community here, through volunteer service at a local food bank, as well as supporting SIV (special immigration visa) families from Afghanistan and Iraq through No One left Behind. (More on this below – If you are in the United States, there may be opportunities for you to support SIV families in your community).
I am writing you today with an update and appeal for our students. There is so much to share. I will try to be concise, but do encourage you to grab a cup of tea and read to the bottom for inspiration, solidarity, and assurance that your support continues to significantly improve the quality of life for our students, and how deeply appreciated it is.
Like everywhere, students are quarantined and have successfully transitioned to online classes. Most have lost their jobs that were enabling them to cover their rent and food expenses. This, of course, is a challenge all over the world at this time.
Appeal for Emergency Food and Housing Stipends
In addition to all of the fantastic news that I will share with you below, I’d like to ask – if you comfortably are able – to please help us to gather funding to provide emergency food and housing stipends for our students. I’d like to aim for a minimum of 2000 euro, so LERRN-sponsored students may each receive up to 200 euro to allocate towards their bills and food expenses.
Please donate here:
Or here (EU accounts):
Account name: Jennifer Moiles
IBAN: DE79 1001 1001 2623 9102 78
(Please email email@example.com to let me know if you’d like your donation to go towards student support stipends or tuition.)
Student News and Updates
Peggy (admissions director and LERRN “house mother”) reports about the transition to online learning: “It’s definitely working successfully. The students adjusted to the government measures and did not give up the effort.”
Somi, from Iran, was invited to join the Webster University Lambda Kappa Chapter of the Delta Mu Delta International Honor Society in Business. This is a prestigious honor extended to students with outstanding academic achievement. We are so proud of her for her dedication, persistence, and inexhaustible ability to meet challenges with determination and grace.
Somi also wrote a reflection on her experience in quarantine in Athens, and the transition to online classes. Her reflection can be viewed on our blog: https://loveelevatesnetwork.com/2020/04/23/quarantine-experience-in-athens/
Our first graduate! We are so pleased and proud to announce that Asres, from Ethiopia, will be graduating in June, after completing his final course in summer session I. He will be the first LERRN-sponsored student to graduate, and will receive a Master’s in Business Administration with emphasis in Project Management. Asres also has an impressive background in social work and experienceworking with NGOs in Ethiopia. The next phase of our work will be to help identify possible job and/or educational opportunities for our students post-graduation, in Greece or in other countries. If you have an opportunity in mind, or would like to help us identify possible opportunities, please contact me and I will be happy to forward Asres’ CV for your review.
Zak, from Syria and Palestine, contributed a letter of gratitude and appreciation for our friends and supporters that can be viewed on our blog: https://loveelevatesnetwork.com/2020/04/23/gratitude/
Tarek, from Egypt, had this to say: “We are happy to hear that you are okay and healthy…. You have a very big place in our hearts.”
In recent conversations with other students, I have been witness to similar persistence and determination; heard accounts of increasing challenges, frustrations, and concern for the short- and long-term implications of the ongoing crisis; and invariably receive copious expressions of gratitude and appreciation.
Moe Hashemi (Somi’s husband), who designed our promotional video, is a digital media artist and available for hire remotely. If you require assistance with graphic design, video composition including motion graphics and/or visual effects, please inquire – I will be happy to forward Moe’s CV and introduce you personally!
Opportunity to Sponsor a Promising Young Student
Webster University Athens has referred a promising and very dedicated student from Ghana to us to assist with finding a sponsor. As she came to Greece under a different set of circumstances and is not technically a refugee, she does not qualify for sponsorship through our program. However, we would love to reach out to our international community of friends and supporters to find out if there is someone who would like to help. Please let me know if you, someone you know, or your community organization would like to sponsor a class, semester or entire program for this dedicated young woman.
Ongoing Tuition Support Needed
Classes will continue into summer. Though everyone is eager to get back into the classroom, all are grateful that their studies can continue online while in quarantine.
Emergency Relief for SIVs in the United States
No One Left Behind (NOLB)is a 501c3 organization in the United States that advocates for Afghan and Iraqi interpreters who served with US troops overseas. In a recent newsletter, NOLB appealed to its supporters to consider “adopting a family” to provide emergency relief for food and other urgent needs. As there are many of these families in Sacramento, I received a list of 10 and, with the help of local food banks and other relief organizations, have been able to deliver care packages addressing various needs to each of them; guided several other families to community resources that can provide assistance; and connected one family with urgently needed midwifery services.
There is much we can do to identify and support those in need in our communities. We won’t need to look far to recognize that there are countless individuals and families in crisis, and being quarantined assures that many of those in need may be suffering in isolation and silence. If you are moved and able to offer support to a family in your area (groceries can even be ordered and delivered through online services), I encourage you to reach out to NOLB or other agencies in your area who are undoubtedly struggling to meet the increasing needs of the community.
In peace, good health and solidarity,