Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Commence the Harvest

Story continued from September Newsletter

It is at this point that Iskashitaa takes up the mantle of service. By having refugees take part in the harvesting and food production, Iskashitaa both provides them with food and eases them into American culture, acquainting them with volunteering locals and other refugees alike.  It's an assisted assimilation tool; a support system of compassion as well as sustenance.

Before working at Iskashitaa, I witnessed this at a social event held by the organization. We met at a Korean restaurant; we, significantly, being an amalgam of refugees from different nations, senior citizens volunteering their time, and college students interning. The sole purpose was to better know people of different stripes, which in this profound context catalyzes an exchange of culture and the establishment of a more global mindset. I spoke with Abdullahi, a merry, wisecracking Somali refugee who has been working as a prison guard in the United States for almost a decade. I talked to an Iraqi refugee who was in the States studying dentistry. In Iraq he had been an established dentist, but since the U.S. did not accept his accreditation he had to start again from square one. In spite of this, he seemed to bear no ill will toward the institutions that bore him this setback; he bore it with grace. For many, being forced to flee from their country of birth to a new one, only to find that your blood, sweat, and tears were not deemed valid would bethe straw that broke the camel's back. But the refugees are possessed of a profound appreciation on a level seldom seen. They smile more than most anyone you will meet.

Refugee is a label necessary for understanding what these people endured in coming here and what they have lost, which surely has impacted them, but does not define them. They are a group of joyous, brave people who are not separate from American society, but are a part of it. Simply put, Iskashitaa is the manifestation of the duty we have as immigrants, descendants of immigrants, and human beings, to make our country a shelter and a balm for the afflicted.
-Tymon Khamsi