Same strength, Different path
While Soft Landing Missoula is an organization that works MOSTLY with refugees, we have also been honored to work with a couple people who are in Missoula seeking asylum. The reasons that have brought them here can be strikingly similar, if not at times even more severe, than the refugee families that have found a home in Missoula. One of the biggest differences, is that people seeking asylum have to apply for and prove their case while already in the U.S. For a refugee family, this process takes place before they arrive and once they are here, this is their home and they can begin a new life with a path to citizenship and all that entails. Someone with an asylum claim, on the other hand, exists in a state of limbo, a state of worry that they may not be able to stay, that they may never be able to be reunited with their family in safety. Uncertainty is a constant companion until the day their case is approved and this process can take years. The point is, refugees AND those seeking asylum for themselves and their families ALL deserve a shot to be heard and treated fairly and humanely. Historically, we as Americans have known this is the right thing to do and have acted in accordance with U.S. and international law, which absolutely allows both forms of seeking safety in this beautiful country. Currently, on our southern border, this is now coming into question as our administration is throwing up every obstacle they can to vulnerable families looking for safety. Soft Landing has laid down a statement in an op-ed in today's Missoulian to explain a bit more and call us to action by making sure we are holding our elected leaders accountable. You can see that statement here.
It can seem a bit isolating way up here to know the best ways to help. We have sought out advice from people who know better than us on how you can be a part of direct action to help families seeking asylum right now. This shouldn't be a substitute for calling your representatives, but you can also reach out to El Otro Lado (The Other Side). El Otro Lado, run by Nicole Ramos, an exceptional immigration attorney that has been working on & across the border for a long time, needs both help & money.
You can DONATE to El Otro Lado or find more general info here.
They also have opportunities to volunteer for professionals and students with a legal background and you can fill out their online form here.
Lastly, I want to leave you with a story of hope. A story from right here in our little mountain town. As I said, SLM has worked with a couple incredibly resilient, strong, and perseverant folks seeking asylum while in Missoula. Even with all the chaos surrounding this process right now, a dear friend just had her asylum case officially approved after YEARS of waiting. I thought my heart would explode when I heard this wonderful news! Just two weeks prior (before she learned her asylum was granted), she had come into the office with a lightness of step and a smile. In the 3 years I have known her, she has had some understandably challenging times, as you can imagine, but something about her that day was glowing. "Mary", she said, "I know now that I have strong friends because I am strong." Truer words were never spoken and we are so incredibly proud of her and are overjoyed for her next chapter. She now gets to file the paperwork to be reunited with her children after 5 long years. We will be with her through this next challenging step, and know her strength will continue to shine.
In love and gratitude,
A HUGE THANKS for a successful Giving Tuesday!
You guys! We has set a substantial goal of $5,000 for Giving Tuesday 2018. You guys blew that out of the water with an impressive $6,559!!! What?!?!? We are so grateful for this incredible community (and beyond!) who cares as much as we do about supporting refugees in Missoula- and shows it every day, but especially on days of giving ;) Thank you, thank you, thank you!
2019 Vista opening with Soft Landing Missoula
Join (or help us spread the word!) Soft Landing Missoula's dynamic team in an exciting one year, full time position through the Americorps VISTA program. Term starts in late January and we are reviewing applications now! We are looking for a motivated team player to jump into our fun, busy office. See below for more information on how to apply.
Volunteer Training Opportunity
So many Missoulians are currently working with refugee students, young and adult, as tutors, teachers, or mentors. The University Of Montana School of Psychology Program and Soft Landing Missoula are bringing you a workshop lead by two phenomenal women with extensive experience working with refugees, both at home and abroad. If you are currently working with someone, or even if you are interested in getting more involved, join us to learn more about "Cross-Cultural Tutoring: Understanding Refugee Students and their Families" with Diana Diakow, M.A. and Anisa N. Goforth, PhD, NCSP. More info about this free opportunity here!
Fun Weekend of Events that Give Back!
People are awesome and incredibly generous. This weekend, three separate events are being put on by businesses and individuals to support SLM and Missoula's refugee families. Check out all 3!
1) Get your sweat on!
2) So you can eat more cookies!
3) Then pamper yourself while helping refugee women do the same!