Refugee Care Initiative
A Peacemaking Project by Harshika J.
What is the injustice we are solving?
Refugees are people who have left their country forcibly due to unfavorable conditions. According to The UN Refugee Agency there are currently 65.6 million people in the world that are forcibly displaced worldwide. Out of that selected demographic, 10 million people are declared “stateless”. To clearly understand the problem at hand, it is crucial for the public to understand what a refugee is. Due to the recent unfavorable political events, there has been an association present with refugees and those who harm the country. For this particular reason, many refugees not only struggle with cultural and health issues but also social problems because of the societal rejection they face constantly. These problems include and are not limited to: difficulty speaking and learning English, raising children and helping them succeed in school, securing work, securing housing, accessing services, and transportation. The Refugee Care Initiative’s Founder, President, and Executive Director, Harshika Jha, is a 16 year-old high school student from Plano, TX who is dedicated to serving the refugee community. The journey started at an event in celebration of World Refugee Day at the Northwest Community Center in Dallas. Meeting and conversing with these refugees led to the realization that the skills these individuals possess are not being exhibited because of various limitations. Seeing her own parents, initially immigrants, adjust themselves to a new environment when arriving to America, had given her initial insight to understand a small portion of what the refugees go through in the United States. There were many problems that refugees faced, but if she could help assuage some the issues they faced, it would help their adjustment to a new community. Therefore, the Refugee Care Initiative will provide portable nutrition to refugees in collaboration with Refugee Services around the United States that fit their cultural needs.
Our Compassionate Solution:
To solve this injustice of Refugees are not being welcomed into their communities
we will address schools, public institutions, communities
by spreading awareness, implementing their culture into our society
Our Project Plan:
- Provide nutritious meals to refugees to promote success and better integration into communities: These meals fit into the cultural needs of the refugees.
- Provide clothing to refugees to aid refugees in the presentation of themselves when looking for job and clothes for everyday life.: The clothing will be classified for different purposes (job interviews)
We will increase my / our compassion by...
The Refugee Care Initiative Services provides 3 main services: food and clothing. Currently, the only service in action is the food and clothing service. The Food service provides portable nutrition for refugees that fit into their cultural needs. Refugees are required to fill out a form emphasizing food allergies and cultural culinary taboos that they must follow. Refugees only have to fill out one form unless a new condition or circumstance emerges. Then, based on the dietary restrictions, volunteers will help cook a meal native to the culture of the refugees—there will be the second option that will include a more generic meal for those who wish to not consume the first option. The second service, clothing, is a basic charitable drive that can be fundraised anywhere. Volunteers are encouraged to start up a fundraiser in their area where adults and children donate professional clothing.
How will you show courage?
1. The Refugee Care Initiative partners and collaborates with its competition by providing services that the competition would not offer thus gaining recognition from a greater audience. 2. The Refugee Care Initiative addresses basic and cultural needs while most agencies only target basic needs due to increasing demand for aids— therefore, the Refugee Care Initiative takes these efforts a step further. 3. The Refugee Care Initiative clothing drive targets specific individuals who desire clothes necessary for work and job interviews whereas most organizations donate clothing without classifying the demographic usages.
How will you collaborate with others?
Refugee interaction is mainly initiated by the collaboration of various agencies and organizations that provide basic aid and house the refugees. Currently, the primary interaction occurs at the Refugee Services of Texas in Dallas and Houston. As an of yet, the response has been positive towards the meals and clothing and the refugee organizations express content towards the actions of this organization.
How will you know you are moving in the right direction? (What are specific ways you can measure your impact?)
By keeping track of funding through our treasurers and asking for feedback through surveys, we will properly assess the success of the organization.
- Fundraise for ingredients
- Address issues on various platforms and gain supporters
- Promote fundraising of clothing and further collaboration with clients
- Create more chapters of the organization to be widespread
How did the project deepen your team's understanding of the injustice?
The team, with the grant, could broaden the clients that we were helping to gain a better understanding of the injustice happening in the realm of refugee assimilation.
How did your community change as a result of your project?
The community has been helped as we have helped educate numerous refugee women as well as provide them with protein that food stamps could not buy.
How many people were impacted by your project?
Explain how you came up with the number of people impacted by the project?
There were about 20 people in the group that we were helping out.
How did your team learn more about the people affected by the injustice?
We learned that the government provides some subsidies to the refugees, but their state is still very unsatisfactory due to racial complications.
What did your team learn?
My team learned that in order to make a change, one must put themselves out there and request help from other organizations to make a bigger impact.
What challenges did your team overcome?
We had some problems gaining a bigger platform in our community, but communit and local businesses helped out with that.
How have you involved others in designing, carrying out, or expanding this project?
There are members that helped volunteering and fundraising for the cause.
What advice would you give to someone starting a peacemaking project?
A piece of advice for any high school entrepreneur would be to not be afraid of failure because it is quite inevitable at any given stage. Instead, be risky and do what you are most passionate about because it will be easier and more enjoyable for you to make a difference. You must try new things, so you can get an idea of how you want to change the world. There will be many people out there to tell you that it won’t be possible --- including people that are close to you because ter all , entrepreneurship is a major risk financially and socially.
6 March 2018 15:54
It is great to hear that you have spent some time talking to refugees to understand the problems they face better -- I'd encourage you to continue to involve refugees in the process of creating the solution and to continue to collaborate with them and get their feedback!
Continuing to understand the root causes of the injustice facing refugees will help you address it at the root. Here are some tools that can help take you through those steps of deepening your understanding: https://www.peacefirst.org/understand-through-compassion
The next step is to create your compassionate insight, which is a way of explaining the specific injustice you are working on, the root cause you are addressing, and then how you will address that root cause through your project. The above tools will help get you all set for that as well! As you develop this, I'd encourage you to think about how you can address the root causes of the injustice WHILE you address the immediate needs of portable nutrition for refugees.
I am so excited to learn more about your project! Thank you for doing this very important work -- and let us know how we can can support you! :)
29 March 2018 20:37
Just checking in about your project and the next steps. I wanted to make sure you are aware of the upcoming Mini-Grant Deadline - there is still time to remain eligible to attend a Peace First Challenge Accelerator if you complete your Compassionate Insight, Project Plan, and Mini-Grant application by March 31st.
We're excited about your work, and would love to be able to support it with a mini-grant of up to $250.
These tools can help you craft your insight, plan, and budget for your mini-grant:
Through your dashboard you can submit your "compassionate insight," record your plan in "Make a plan" and then "Apply for a mini-grant" for the materials you need.
Let me know how I can help!
18 April 2018 9:53
The mini-grant process is also a space for you to get feedback on your peacemaking project. We hope you will use this feedback to further strengthen your project. Please see the feedback on your mini-grant below.
This is a wonderfully compassionate project that has a very compelling plan! I love that you have recognized the importance of addressing cultural needs as well as basic needs by ensuring that dietary restrictions and cultural norms are respected as part of the food aid. I also think it is great that you are considering this work as part of an effort to spread awareness about refugees -- that is so important for developing longer term solutions while also addressing the needs of these refugees.
Things to Consider:
I'd encourage you to reflect a bit more on what the root causes of the injustices facing refugees are and which of those you want to address with your project -- it sounds from reading your description like you have a sense that part of this stems from a lack of understanding amongst host communities about the difficulties facing refugees as well as their culture-- and a lack of understanding about what it means to be a refugee. I'm curious if you've talked to folks who are not welcoming to refugees to understand why? Doing that may help you come up with a solution that can be more sustainable by involving them in the solution! I'd encourage you to think about how to broaden your collaboration to include refugees themselves in the solution, as well as those who are potentially unwelcoming to refugees. I love that you talked about volunteers cooking meals native to the refugees culture, but am curious if you've thought about ways that the refugees and the volunteers/host community could cook and eat those meals together? Food can be such a powerful community building tool that can deepen relationships across difference -- it feels like to address the true root causes while also addressing the basic and cultural needs of refugees (clothing, food), you could explore how to use this an opportunity to build relationships, community, and understanding between the host community and refugees. That might address some of the wider root causes of the exclusion of refugess. I'd also encourage you to check out our SMART Goals tool -- your goals are fabulous, but you might want to consider making them more specific and timebound so you can better track your progress -- you could set some specific goals in terms of impact numbers for the next two months, and then continue to set short and longer term goals. https://www.peacefirst.org/resource/plan-1-smart-goals
I thought you might be interested in some of these articles and links:
It never hurts to continue to return to this tool as you learn more through your work: https://www.peacefirst.org/resource/understand-2-problem-and-solution-trees
This is a fabulous project and I can't wait to see how it evolves!
Congratulations and best of luck with your project!
6 June 2018 14:39
Congratulations on finishing your peacemaking project! I’m on the Peace First team and wanted to say thank you for your amazing work and for taking time to share about your work.
Below you will find some feedback based on your Reflection, which we hope will help you to celebrate your incredible accomplishment and reflect on how to grow and develop your project in the future:
Wow! I love the way that you've identified unmet needs in your community for refugees, and have found ways to fill them. Culturally specific and appropriate food, as well as food that is accessible to medical dietary restrictions, is so vital--as is work-appropriate clothing. Your identification of refugees' skills and talents as not easily exhibited right now is compassionate and astute, and I love the long term goals for your project. You clearly are using care, compassion, and strategic thinking as you carry out this work.
Things to consider:
I'd love to know more about how you've incorporated the perspectives of refugees themselves into this work. I have the sense that you've worked with them, but would love to know more about how this happened (or if it did). I'm also curious about ways that refugees can be involved in leadership of your work--how can they plan and lead? Finally, I'm wondering if you can clearly identify the root causes of refugees not being welcomed. How can you work to address those root causes in your work?
We hope you will stay in touch and keep us up to date as you continue your work to create change!