Some of you may have been following the remarkable stories of the brave and determined refugee woman we have been trying to help – Lisa, above, Hawah, Osmorasa, Shasheen. Some of you send them money to help them in their new and challenging lives.
Last week, I invited each of them to come to Bedlam Farm and spent a day in the country, with or without their children, when the public schools close for the summer next week.
To my delight, all of them have accepted. They are eager to come and see the donkeys and sheep, go to lunch at the Round House Cafe, and perhaps meet some of the equally remarkable women in my writing class. This group is the nucleus of the woman's support group Ali and I are trying for form.
They are also eager to meet and talk with American women, Maria and I are thrilled at the idea of their coming to spend a day at the farm. Their kids are very welcome also. Most have never seen a border collie or a donkey, Ali can translate for them in their conversations with some of the women here.
As you can see, I'm pushing for the idea that they are a group, not just a collection of embattled individuals. One of them has already asked me about the me.too movement, an astonishing them for them to see and hear about. I told them it is perhaps best for them to talk to other woman about this over the long haul.
I've suggested they form the woman's support group, I think it will happen.
I sense they admire the independence and freedom of some American woman, I hope it's a good virus that catches on.
I can't wait to take photos of them here, and I can't think of a better use of the farm. If you wish to help in this work, please send a contribution to the Gus Fund, c/o Jon Katz, P.O. Box 205, Cambridge, N.Y., 12816, or via Paypal, email@example.com.
Ali and I met at our "office," a convenience store booth is Schaghticoke, New York, halfway between Albany and Cambridge, my town. First, we made plans for the upcoming week, I'm going to Albany Thursday to meet with a refugee mother from African, she has nine children (several were adopted from refugee camps, their families were killed in civil wars and genocide campaigns).
She has a good job at a local hospital, but is living on the worst street in Albany, drug dealers have moved into her building, and she fears for her sons. She just needs help in managing the move, she doesn't want any assistance beyond that.
She has found an apartment, she will need some help for a month or so for the deposit and to meet the higher cost. She has a good job and will be able to meet the rent payments in the future. I'll meet her on Thursday. We also made plans for the soccer team – the are on vacation starting this coming Monday for ten days and Ali wants to keep them stimulated and busy and off the streets.
We walked about Hawah, Osmarosa, Lisa and Shasheen, and our plans to get them together to form a woman's group. Ali is talking to them about it now, they seem excited. Next week, I'm meeting Lisa once more to see how we can help her in additional ways through a difficult time. Her husband was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan while he was driving food to Americans at an airbase there.
I want to support Ali in this planning for the soccer team. It is important.
I've arranged a boat ride on Lake George, a trip to an Animal Park in the Adirondacks, a movie (Invincibles 2) and a trip to Bedlam Farm. While here, the team will come to the farm, see the animals, have lunch at the Round House, visit the Mansion residents, with whom they have bonded, and they have asked to visit Ed Gulley, who they met some weeks ago, before he was diagnosed with cancer.
I'm negotiating with the Great Adventure amusement park in Lake George for a one-day outing for the team in July.
We have also found some free parks with pools in the Albany area that they can visit on hot days. Ali needs a new smart phone, his is falling apart from continuous use, we are exploring special trade-in and other deals. There are great special orders, but I'd like to help him do it.
I turned over 20 books on "Smart Soccer For Kids" for him to give to the team, and three canister sprays of cold treatment for bruises and cuts. I got him a first aid kit last wee. New "Albany Warriors" baseball caps are coming on Monday.
I love meeting Ali there, he sets the scene, shouting and waving his arms when he gets excited, he is a presence. So, I suppose am I. They are getting used to us there, they even vacate our table when we come.
If you would care to support this refugee work, we can use the help. You can contribute to Gus Fund, c/o Jon Katz, P.O.Box 205, Cambridge, N.Y., 12816., or via Paypal, firstname.lastname@example.org.