Gift of Giving Back- Press Enterprise

 Afghan refugee Friba Dawar speaks before helping to feed the homeless at Palm Baptist Church in Riverside on Thursday, May 11, 2017. A group of Afghan refugee women with Glocally Connected cooked traditional Afghan dishes to thank the church for allowing the nonprofit group to hold English learning classes at the church facility. (Photo by Rachel Luna, Riverside Press Enterprise/SCNG)

Afghan refugee Friba Dawar speaks before helping to feed the homeless at Palm Baptist Church in Riverside on Thursday, May 11, 2017. A group of Afghan refugee women with Glocally Connected cooked traditional Afghan dishes to thank the church for allowing the nonprofit group to hold English learning classes at the church facility. (Photo by Rachel Luna, Riverside Press Enterprise/SCNG)

As soon as our ESL class ended that day, Sherry immediately called me to share the exciting news: "Our students/refugee women fed the homeless today! It was a special class since we also wanted to honor and celebrate Mother's Day," she said. I can hear Sherry's joy through the phone, a testament that the women's endeavor illuminated light and strength to our team and the entire community (1 of 108700883... mission accomplished).

Since the very beginning of our organization's establishment, I understood that it is not our responsibility to help everyone, nor is it humanly possible to do so. My heart is fulfilled whenever we can make a difference in a person's life, regardless if they are a refugee or not. This act bridges the gap of global and local issues: homelessness. According to 2016's statistics, reported by Riverside's Department of Public Social Services, there are 1,351 unsheltered and 814 sheltered homeless people (total = 2,165) in Riverside County, California. Although percentage has decreased since 2015 to 2016 by 12%, these numbers clearly paint a picture: we all long for a sense of home and as community members, should engage in a dialogue to alleviate this issue.

These acts of generosity remind us that those who are often marginalized and "victimized" have agency to stand up. In solidarity, they, undoubtedly, have the independence and courage to contribute in larger communal endeavors. We are hoping to continue this intiative and collaborate with other organizations to start a similar project involving our refugee and homeless community.

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-Kristina F.