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June highlights: International Marketplace and more!

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IRC San Diego: Our Impact this month

Huruma Clothing Company, a clothing brand bringing modern African designs to the American marketplace with products ranging from jackets and hoodies to shirts and face masks, was a participant of the first-ever IRC's International Market.

The first of many: Celebrating World Refugee Day with our first International Market  

This World Refugee Day, the IRC in San Diego collaborated with the San Diego Refugee Forum and The Blvd. to bring together small businesses owned by immigrants and refugees across the San Diego area. Eleven vendors brought us an array of foods, coffees, baked goods, shaved ice, skincare products, gift baskets, and designer clothing. It made for a truly creative and invigorating event.  

For some vendors, it was their first opportunity to sell their products at an event. For others, well, they ran out of product by popular demand! The afternoon was filled with local goods and live music from refugee artists and DJs, and we’ve only just begun. Our first International Market celebrated World Refugee Day, but we decided to keep the International Market going. You can join us every Sunday at the International Market to celebrate and support refugees and immigrants in our community! 

R&P Spotlight: The five-year journey to resettlement and religious freedom  

In addition to case management support for Abdul and his family, his two sons also received special kids welcome bundles from our community partners, Baby2baby, which included clothing, a toy, and other items for each child. Photo: IRC San Diego

After a multi-year journey from his home country, Adbul, his wife, and two sons have finally settled in San Diego. Five years ago, Abdul and his family left Pakistan after being fired from his job for his religious practice as an Ahmadiyya Muslim. They faced violent threats from neighboring communities if he and his family did not convert to another sector of the Muslim faith. In response, the four of them spent most of the past five years in Sri Lanka awaiting resettlement through the UNCR. However, those five years were encapsulated with little food, little to no income, and mob attacks against him, his family, and his community after the Easter bombings of 2019. 

Covid further delayed their resettlement process. However, with much celebration, he and his family finally arrived in San Diego in March of 2021, with support and guidance from the IRC and IMO during their resettlement process. Within a month, Abdul already began a new job at an Indian restaurant working in the busy, fast-paced environment that has now become his passion. He also recently passed his permit exam and will be taking his licensing exam this summer to begin driving again (and hopefully cutting his work commute in half!). 

All WRC programs such as the garden and wellness activities are led and designed based on participant needs and interests. Photo: Maggie Simon, IRC

The Women’s Resilience Center is back in the garden! 

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Women’s Resilience Center (WRC) has been taking their meetings virtually. This month, the WRC was finally able to host its first in-person meeting of the year in the garden where they were able to tend to and re-explore the green space they know and love. Five members of the Sewing Sisters group gathered, three of which had started the Center’s original garden. They were excited to water the beds and discover what has been growing in their absence. The Sewing Sisters also gathered to work on a project together, cutting, designing, and collaging quilt pieces. The WRC is are happy to be back working creatively together in person! 

Vocational English as a Second Language program continues to expand 

IRC's Vocational ESL classes are provided in many refugee languages and specializations to accommodate client needs.

This month showcased the broad impact our Vocational English as a Second Language (VESL) program has had and the future it is helping our clients create. This June, we had over 80 students from four different countries–Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo–enrolled in our courses to expand their language skills to best suit their career interests.  

Our VESL program has ten cohorts, all of which focus on either beginning computer literacy, transportation services, or family childcare. Because these courses are vocation-specific, they equip non-native English speakers with the vocabulary and language exposure necessary to help them pursue work in an area of interest.