Thursday, June 28, 2012

RefugeeFEST a huge success!

Thanks to all the volunteers who helped make Tucson's 4th annual World RefugeeFEST the biggest and greatest yet!  An estimated 2,000-2,500 people attended RefugeeFEST to cheer on soccer teams, have their faces painted, attend the new citizens' ceremony, survey international crafts, and enjoy performances by singing and dance groups.  Congratulations goes out to FC Simba, the winning soccer team with members from Somalia and Sudan.

One of my favorite parts of RefugeeFEST was when organizers of the citizenship ceremony turned the mic over to newly-American refugee children.  The first boy, in suit and tie, turned to his parents, who stood bashfully against a side wall:  I want to thank my parents, for all of their work to bring me here.  I'm just so happy to be living in America, and it wouldn't have happened without all of their work.  A girl dressed in traditional head-to-toe shawls ventured quietly up to the mic next:  It's so great to be a citizen...Thank you to my parents and to God. 

The ceremony honored 50 children who earned their citizenship alongside their parents.  Way to go, new citizens!

(left) Rebecca, a licensed cosmetologist from Liberia, braids hair at RefugeeFEST. (above) Rebecca got her hands on Barbara too - looking good!  Find Rebecca at Beckie's Best Braids (in Julia's) at 4221 East Grant Road.  Phone:  520-440-6113 or 520-721-5009.  Tuesday through Saturday, 9:00-5:00.  At RefugeeFEST, Rebecca also sold African clothing, jewelry, and artwork.

Breast is best

Yesterday, Iskashitaa attended the Arizona Refugee Resettlement Program Quarterly Meeting.  Lori and Danielle represented the group at the morning breakout session on health services for refugees, where they heard from U of A's Dr. Jessie Pettit and from an AZ Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) representative.  Both organizations encourage new refugee mothers to breastfeed, rather than formula-feed, their infants.  Commercial advertising touts baby formula as "more nutrient-rich," "better for your baby" than breastmilk.  Formula can look like the progressive, upscale option for refugee moms trying to start new lives for their children in America.  But in reality, mom's breastmilk is invaluable for her baby's health.  Here's why:
  • Colostrum, or early breast milk, provides essential nutrients and antibodies that a baby needs right after birth.  (This is why colostrum is also called "liquid gold"!)
  • Breastmilk is easier for infants to digest:  Babies who drink formula are over 100% more likely to have stomach problems, such as vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Mom's breastmilk changes as her infant grows, providing the right amount of fat, sugar, water, and protein at each stage in a baby's development.
  • The cells, hormones, and antibodies in breastmilk protect the baby from disease.  Infants who are formula-fed are at higher risk for:
    • necrotizing enterocolitis (affects the gastrointestinal tract)
    • lower respiratory infections
    • asthma
    • obesity
    • Type 2 diabetes

The take-home message:  Educate refugee mothers that "breast is best!"  Organizations like WIC are working to educate refugee moms that here in the US, you can breastfeed in public!  You can ask your employer for breaks to pump breastmilk - and employers are legally bound to allow them. 

Like Iskashitaa, WIC is empowering refugee women to seek what is best for them (and for their children!).  For more information, see:

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Trip up/down to AMANI Daycare Center

Iskashitaa made a trip up (because its up E. Grant Road) to AMANI Daycare center to give presents to our little ones!! This is a Daycare center for refugee family children and we met so many lovely, happy children.
We gave them stuffed animals, toys, clothes and of course spent more than enough time with them.
Special Thanks to all those who have donated these items for the children! We really appreciate them and we hope the childrens love them too.  

Say hello to the camera :)

Cheska struggling to describe the stuffed animal she is holding; "Is it a bear or a rabbit?"

Reminds me of this emoticon: O 3 O
Personal favorite picture of the day :)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

DUKIES settle in Iskashitaa! Let the journey begin!!

Greetings everyone!
We have two new interns that have joined Iskashitaa staff and they are from Duke University. They will be with us for the next two months (they actually began working since the first week of June) and will update their stories, providing you with all the  ins-and-outs of Iskashitaa.

They both LOVE harvesting and cooking! 
SO, here they are!

     Cheska (Francheska) is from Long Island, New York but she was born in South Korea and have lived in New Zealand prior to coming to the United States.She is a rising junior at Duke University studying Political Science and International Relations. Her diverse cultural background has helped her appreciate and find interest in foreign policy. Before coming to Iskashitaa, she spent two months in Costa Rica, volunteering at a non-profit organization called Abriendo Mentes. She taught English to the village children and immersed herself in a beautiful beach town called Playa Potrero. For the past month, she has been updating our facebook, and recreating our blog. She wants to work with Iskashitaa to raise international refugee awareness and in the future wishes to be an ambassador to bring many international issues to the government's and public’s attention.

Garlic harvest with the dukies!
     Originally from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Danielle Kubicki has lived for the past 13 years in Virginia Beach, VA. She is a rising sophomore at Duke University, where she studies biology and international relations. Danielle traveled to Tucson this summer as a volunteer with DukeEngage, an 8-week program that sends students to locations throughout the world to explore issues and contribute to community change. She is currently based at BorderLinks, where she studies migration across the US-Mexico border. She is also interning at Pan Left Productions, a collective of media artists and activists, and of course at Iskashitaa! As Iskashitaa’s new Media Intern, Danielle is thrilled to be learning about migration on a global scale and to be engaging with such a welcoming community

And here is a sneak-peak into what the interns do during their free time...
Amidst piles and piles of tomatoes...
Our interns find...


!!!! Inseparable tomato(es)?!?

So, the interns took a cheesy picture and worked their day happily after

Wait, it(they) is/are like us! Iskashitaa (Intern) LOVE!!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

World Refugee Day: One day if you had to leave your country..

Today is the U.N designated World Refugee Day. Today, please take a moment to remember approximately 10.5 million world refugees who were forced to leave their homes in search of basic security that we take for granted each and everyday --food, water, war-free country, education, religious persecution and many more.

It never takes much to learn, to be informed or to participate in helping and understanding the lives of refugees. 
Watch this inspiring video about a Cambodian Refugee

Or read this interesting Myths Buster about Refugee Resettlement!

If you are looking for ways to support refugees, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service have resources for advocacy that you can easily access on their website at Resources for Advocacy

  • Advocacy Postcard - Print on any color card stock and send to your members of Congress, urging them to promote laws that welcome refugees.

  • Advocacy Toolkit - Incorporate advocacy into your observance of World Refugee Day with guidance and resources from this toolkit.

But above all, please take time to learn and care about the issue and share that with others. That is one of the greatest way to show your love and support. 

Thank you and have a wonderful day!!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Let's Celebrate Tucson World RefugeeFEST!!!

The International Rescue Committee in Tucson is proud to once again sponsor the community’s largest celebration of refugees, the fourth annual Tucson World RefugeeFEST! 
The festival, presented by the Somali Bantu Association 
of Tucson, AZ (SBATA) will take place this year on Saturday, June 23 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Maracana Indoor Sports Arena, 555 E. 18th Street.

“Tucson World RefugeeFEST is an incredibly fun and engaging celebration of the many diverse cultures and backgrounds that are represented by our refugee community here in Tucson,” said Melissa Wieters, development officer for the International Rescue Committee in Tucson. “We are thrilled to be able to join with SBATA and the many other organizations committed to raising awareness of the gifts of culture and global perspectives that refugees share with all of us.”

Tucson World RefugeeFEST will feature live performances and art from refugees around the world, as well as educational booths, ethnic food, and interactive multi-lingual children’s activities. A soccer tournament between refugee teams from Tucson and Phoenix will take place throughout the day with an award ceremony in the evening. A formal United States Citizenship and Immigration ceremony in the afternoon will celebrate refugees who have succeeded in attaining U.S. citizenship.

For more information on the Tucson World RefugeeFEST, visit 

See you there next Saturday!!!!!