The Saturday Summer Fund
Time to get back to doing some good, and I have a great cause ready for people to consider, if they are able.
Every Saturday, RISSE , the refugee and immigrant support center in Albany, plans to organzie a summer outing for refugee children, including the feisty members of the RISSE soccer team. These kids are working hard to adapt themselves to America, but need organized activities on the weekends, especially in the Summer.
Ali has been organizing Saturday events, and paying for it himself. I'd like to help him out and help these children in a very direct and meaningful way. Their parents are working hard in their transition to America, and often have little or no extra money.
Each Saturday this summer, Ali is planning an excursion to a different place – beaches, state parks, picnics and barbecues, birthday parties and games. Many of these kids have nothing else to do on weekends, and are still making their way in America. Ali (his full name is Amjad Abdalla Mohammed), their teacher and fierce advocate, says he is eager to keep these kids of the streets, where there sometimes is trouble.
And he want them to have some fun, which is also something they need.
The children love him and they love one another, and are forming strong bonds of friendship and community. They are also learning about the other faces America through its parks and public spaces and beaches and pools. Ali is always teaching them – about courtesy, watching out for one another, homework and language. He is also the coach of the soccer team, shown above.
He loves America, he tells them, it is a good place, America is better than it sometimes seems right now.
Hopefully, one of the visits will be to our farm.
Another will be to the Great Escape Adventure Park in Lake George in July, made possible by the generous contribution of Kimberly, one of the readers of my books and blog. RISSE has not yet set up a special donations page for the kids, but the summer program can't really wait, so I am temporarily collecting this money and giving Ali what he needs to do this important work.
I have had the pleasure of meeting many of these children, they are quite wonderful, and no threat to America. Many have endured awful atrocities and suffering, and Ali is supporting them in every possible way. It costs $70 for transportation, food, gas and other necessities for each Saturday.
I am seeking to raise this money on a monthly basis. Through your donations, I already have enough for the next two Saturdays, $140. I am seeking donations for June and then, July and August, one month at time. For June, I'm seeking to raise $280. The same for July and August.
For the summer, I'm looking to raise $780.
I believe this is to be an essential experience for these children, one that can alter lives, and I am eager to support Ali, an angel doing the greatest work – giving children love, hope and experience. America is a wonderful place, but a difficult place for many of these children, especially now – they come from the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Some of the horrors their families have experienced are hard to hear, let along repeat.
When I was last at RISSE, one of the children came up to me and took my hand and hugged me. "Thank you, sir, for helping us," he said.
We are, I believe, showing them the true heart and soul of America, we are a generous and welcoming people, some of us have formed an Army Of Good and are eager to do good rather than argue about what good is. For me, the refugee and immigration experience are part of my blood and soul.
If you are interested in helping, you can donate in any amount in two ways: one is by writing a check to the Saturday Children's Fund, c/o Bedlam Farm, 2502 State Route 22, Cambridge, N.Y., 12816. The other is by sending donations through Paypal's Friends and Family option to me, jon@bedlamfarm.Please mark checks and contributions to The Saturday Children's Fund so that I can keep track of donations and account for them.
Every penny will go precisely where it is supposed to go.
This will shape and support the summers of these children, when school is out and many cannot afford the cost of camps or day care programs. They need to get out of the city and into the wider world of America. Ali is a wonderful guide for them. Thanks for considering this.