Monday, January 30, 2012

Battle of the Ads

Iskashitaa Refugee Network is grateful for the marketing support of American Advertising Federation of Tucson and Casino del Sol during Battle of the Ads IV! Look for the fruits of their labor in the near future, including bus shelters featuring the poster displayed here.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

HCET Harvest 1-27

This week was the first time I was able to harvest with refugees and I quickly learned that working with them makes harvesting much more fun. Pro volunteer Joanne brought three refugee women from Bhutan to harvest with us, and one refuge from the Congo came. These are countries I’ve only ever read about and they seem so mysterious to me. It was interesting to hear from the women what their native countries were like, especially when compared to Tucson. I can only imagine what a shock it must be to move from those tropical regions to the desert of the Southwest. Trying to communicate with the refugees made me realize what a difficult transition coming to the United States must be for them. They impressed me with how quickly they are learning and adapting to life here. It would be so difficult to try to learn a language, get a job, pay for housing and food, and take care of a family in a foreign country. I left the Friday harvest with increased respect and understanding for all refugees learning to live in the United States.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012



Counting Money $$$ ESL lesson

It’s a new year and ESL classes have resumed at Las Casitas apartments. For me, as the new HCET ESL intern, it’s been an exciting time to become familiar with the work Iskashitaa does through teaching English in the refugee community. In our first weeks of classes we have begun a unit on finances that will cover everything from counting money to paying bills and using credit. Our first lesson involved learning to distinguish between coins and counting change. This might seem like a simple task, but it’s easy to forget that, unlike many other currencies, US coins don’t include a numeral indicating their value anywhere on the coin. Through games and role-playing activities, our students have learned to identify coins quickly and use coins and small bills to pay in store setting. In the next few weeks we hope to being teaching about credit cards and good ways to manage finances.
However, while teaching has been fulfilling, some of our most rewarding experiences have not been in the classroom at all. While in the process of recruiting students, we had the opportunity to visit some of the refugees in their homes. I greatly enjoyed getting to meet the families of some of our students, including drinking juice with them and watching a Nepali film, as well as hearing a little bit about their lives here. I hope that as this semester continues I will have more opportunities to build relationships with out students outside the classroom and be able to learn more about their culture and lives from them.

-Kara Haberstock

Monday, January 23, 2012

Upcoming Events

Save the Date! Come enjoy the events or come and voluunteer!

Refugee 101 Information Night: Thursday, February 9th (6:00pm - 8:00pm)
Come learn more about refugee life, communicating in different languages, and refugee work. Anyone who wants information can attend and attendance does not commit you to serve. The training is at St. Francis in the Foothills, 4625 E. River Rd. Please RSVP with the

Winter Harvests: Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
Interested in harvesting oranges, tangerines, tangelos, grapefruit and other citrus? Contact to harvest all the best produce of this winter. We always need drivers and helpers!

Food Preservation Workshops: 2nd and 4th Fridays (January 27, February 10 and 24)
Do you like local foods? Love cooking? Like to snack, talk, and meet new people? Then our harvesting and food preservation is the perfect volunteer position for you! Food Preservation workshops with refugees and Iskashitaa include: pumpkin chutney, citrus juices and zests, marmalades every 2nd and 4th Fridays at St Francis in the Foothills. Learn about new foods, techniques, and cross cultural traditions. Come for an hour come for half the day! If you are interested in volunteering please email

Sewing Redistribution day: Friday, February 3rd (11:00am - 2:00pm)
The generous donations of volunteers and friends of Iskashitaa have led to a VERY full storage shed and we want to get those donations back out to our refugee friends! As usual, we cannot do this without your help! Interested in helping give rides to refugees, organize materials the day of and hand out materials? Please contact if you would like to help out!
St. Francis in the Foothills Crafts' Market: 2nd and 4th Sundays (8:30am - 11:30am)
Every second and fourth Sunday, our products are for sale at St. Francis in the Foothills, 4625 E. River Road. Come and browse our handmade crafts!

Tapestry of Tucson: Saturday February 4th (10:00am - 4:00pm)
This vibrant and cultural event, will take place February 4th, 2012, at Dunbar Cultural Center, 325 W. 2nd Street, Tucson, Arizona, from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. Door $5 single, $10 family, children 12 and under FREE. Interested in being part of the event as an Iskashitaa volunteer? Contact Lizbeth at lizbethg@email.arizona.eduEntertainment will include:Strolling Mariachis, Dancers: Folkloricos, Modern Dancers, Zumba, West African Dance, Sunflower Bhutanese Dancers, Puppet show, Vignettes featuring: guitar players, singers and performers

Swimming Program: Saturdays (11:00am - 1:00pm)
Iskashitaa is offering free lessons for refugees who are in 3rd grade or older! The classes begin on January 7th and run through March 17th. They are every Saturday morning. If you are interested in learning to swim or volunteering with the program please contact Elizabeth McMahon at for information.

Peace Fair: February 25 (9:00am - 2:00pm)
This event will take place at Reid Park. If you would like to join us contact Stay tuned for more information!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

First week at Iskashitaa

What a great first week with Iskashitaa! As the new intern for Iskashitaa harvesting, I’ve spent the past 5 days learning all about coordinating a harvest. There are so many small details to remember but thankfully I have Mike and my fellow intern Annie to show me the ropes. Much of my time was spent contacting refugees to volunteer in our Friday afternoon harvest. The language barrier is difficult, but I’ve learned that a few key words, like “Iskashitaa”, “fruit”, and “harvest”, are well understood. I’m hoping that as I continue calling refugees searching for volunteers, my cross-cultural communication will improve and I will start to develop personal relationships with them. Unfortunately, no refugees were able to join us for the harvest Friday, but we had a great team of volunteers harvesting grapefruits, oranges, and kumquats. Picking citrus on a beautiful afternoon was a great way to get out of the classroom and get my hands dirty and I can’t wait for next week. Annie and I will be harvesting every Friday from 2-4 so come out and join us, we’d love to work with you!

-Sam Stanley

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Volunteer of the Year 2010: William Aymard!

Many of you know him as the silent (although sometimes not so silent) supporter. Philanthropist, information technology expert, grounds person, mechanic, part of a larger constant cleanup crew, and all around great guy. Since 2003, William Aymard, a good-hearted person, has been dedicated to Iskashitaa, relentlessly working hard to help the organization grow and showing his kindness in unexpected ways to help refugees. He upgrades and backs up computers, maintains printers, the network and the Xerox machine. Mr. Aymard has greatly assisted in the payment of the utilities, the space, internet connection, and the cleaning crew for many years. In between working on his multitude of cars, he STILL manages to repair Iskashitaa vehicles (official and non-official), test drives recent arrivals' first cars before purchase, fixes volunteers', staff, and refugee friends' cars when needed. He welcomes global friends, donations, and endless fruit to our/his parking lot. William is sometimes our captain schlepper, helping transport large donations. In addition to all of this, he finds time advocate on our behalf (especially when no one is earshot). Without his help we could not have reached hundreds of families. Thanks to his assistance and support, over 400,000 pounds of fresh local fruits, vegetables and nuts have been harvested, donated, distributed, juiced, zested, canned, marmaladed, pickled, and preserved since our inception. Thank you William!

HCET Intern Speaks about Harvest

Despite the rain and cold, our valiant team brought in another prosperous harvest of calamondin limes. Thanks to Sue, we were able to get three Bhutanese friends out to harvest with us. These guys were some of the most hardworking harvesters we have had, not looking away from the branches until all of our bags were bulging. Not even the challenging weather put a damper on our Friday morning. I am super glad to have met these guys, and am grateful to Sue and Kellan for volunteering with Annie and me this week. See you next week, and stay warm!

by Tucker Wiedenkeller, HCET Intern

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Its GRAPEFRUIT season!

As you drive through the Tucson Area, you may have seen bright yellow and brilliant orange on the trees! It is officially citrus season! Iskashitaa is ready to harvest these natural treats from our neighboorhoods.

We need crates and boxes now! Call our Harvest Coordinator, Mike 925-330-8775 if you have crates or if you would like to help in harvesting tangelos and grapefruits.

Let us all enjoy local grapefruits with "no fruit left behind" in the style of Barbara Eiswerth!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Four ladies in a grapefruit tree by Joanne Finch

Big yellow in bunches
Challenge the reaching
Socks hold to limbs better
Shoes left in the soil.

Thickness of branches
Unwind the neat hair
Thorns grab at the saris
Then wadded and downed.

Giggles the language
Of both spry and less
Sweetness of action
The harvesting prize.

Friday January 13th Food Preservation Class Recipe

Pumpkin (& fruit) Chutney
By Joanna Farrow
Modified by Iskashitaa’s AZ Refugee Project VISTA team from Phx and Tucson- “Fun with Fruit for VISTAs”

Ø 2 lbs. uncooked pumpkin, deseeded
Ø 4 local torpedo onions or the equivalent of one large yellow onion, chopped
Ø ¼ cup chopped dried apples after rehydration
Ø 1¼ cup mixture (if possible) of raisins, halved dried cherries & chopped dried figs
Ø 1 ¾ cups local cactus, citrus or pomegranate vinegar
Ø 1 ½ cups light brown sugar
Ø 1 ½ oz fresh ginger, grated using micro planes
Ø 2 teaspoons salt
Ø 1 tsp ground coriander
Ø 1 cinnamon stick, and or cinnamon powder
Ø Zest of one medium orange directly into pot
Ø 4 loquat halves without seed or sepals

Pumpkin station: bowl for pumpkin meat, bucket or large container with garbage bag for compost, tablecloth, cutting boards
1. Take ½ blue Cinderella pumpkin (precooked). Cut into chunks or scoop out half of a pumpkin meat without skin or seeds, or stringy fibers into pot or bowl. Set aside or bring to kitchen for chutney cooking.

Chopping station knives, bowl for compost, bowl for loquats, tablecloth, cutting board
Ø 4 torpedo onions or the equivalent of one large yellow onion, chopped
Ø Defuzz washed loquats and deseed loquats and halve –only small amounts needed for each batch

Cooking instructions:
1. In bottom of large, heavy-based saucepan put 1 tbsp of oil and lightly saute onions and add all the remaining ingredients and precooked pumpkin. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat and cook gently, uncovered, for about 15 minutes until the chutney is thick and pulpy. To check whether the chutney is cooked, draw a wooden spoon through the mixture, it should leave a clean trail on the base of the pan that slowly disappears.
2. Spoon the chutney into sterilized jars and lids. Store in a cool place for a month before using.
Makes 2 ½ lbs- 5 ½ pint jars

Creating Relationships

Iskashitaa's Swimming Program on Jan 14th was a great success! Despite Arizona's winter overcast, volunteers and participants enjoyed their Saturday morning classes. YMCA lifeguards taught how to kick, float and blow bubbles. The swim lesson was followed by free time to play pool volleyball and practice new swimming skills. As people slashed in the water, they created trust and relationships with one another.

In this picture a young girl from Bhutan learns how to float in the water with the help of a dedicated volunteer.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Iskashitaa's Swim Program has begun!

Many refugees have spent their lives in rural areas or refugee camps where there was not an opportunity to learn to swim. When they arrived in the United States, their apartments had pools that they were excited to try. In the past few years, there have been many near drownings and one fatal incident. As Iskashitaa staff mourned with the family of the recent drowning, we vowed to help prevent future drownings. The program also helps refugees interact with the Tucson community, practice their English and have fun in a safe and therapeutic environment.

January 7th marked the date of the begining of the Iskashitaa Swim Program! There were a total of 18 refugees and 13 local volunteers joined us last Saturday for a day of fun and learning in the NW YMCA pool! We had a wonderful time in the sunny 80 degree weather and can't wait to get back next week! If you have a refugee friend who would like to learn to swim, don't worry! Sign ups are due by February 4th for the next 5 week period. For more information, please contact Beth at! Want to volunteer? Contact Lizbeth at

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy New Year 2012

Iskashitaa Refugee Harvesting Network would like to wish you a Happy New Year 2012! In the spirit of new year's resolutions, we ask you to do something that matters. Come and volunteer your time and experiences with Iskashitaa!

We are always looking for volunteers for our various projects, which include harvesting, sewing/crafts circle, ESL/tutoring, family mentoring and food preservation workshops.

You can sign up directly on our website (under the events' page) for harvesting, food workshops and community events.