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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Around the Web

All over the world, populations are moving, fleeing, evolving, hurting each other and helping one another. For those of us who work in refugee resettlement, it is especially important to remember that although there is always more work to be done, good things are happening all over the planet, as well.

Jaime and I have found a few articles and Websites that we hope will provide some insights into the ways hope and courage are still alive and well in our world.

A recent article in the New York Times gives a glimpse into the lives of newly resettled Bhutanese refugees in the Bronx, New York. The article is accompanied by an excellent photo slide show by photojournalist Suzanne DeChillo.

An excerpt of the article follows. Click here to read the entire story, but do it soon--articles in the Times aren't available online indefinitely. you can access the archived stories simply by registering with the Website--it's quick, easy, and free.

Bhutan Refugees Find a Toehold in the Bronx

Published: September 24, 2009

Nearly every immigrant group in New York City has a neighborhood, or at least a street, to call its own. But for refugees from the tiny South Asian nation of Bhutan, the closest thing to a home base is a single building in the Bronx — a red-brick five-story walk-up, with a weed-choked front courtyard and grimy staircases.

Eight families — more than 40 people — have taken up residence here in the past several months, part of a stream of thousands of Bhutanese refugees who have flowed into the United States in the past year and a half. With the help of resettlement agencies, many have found apartments in the Bronx, and the largest concentration has ended up here in the building on University Avenue.

This is their small toehold in a strange new world. The only life most have known was in the rural plains and Himalayan foothills of Bhutan and the dusty refugee camps of Nepal. Few have ever lived in homes with electricity or indoor plumbing, or between walls made of anything but bamboo. continued online

Weaving together a community of hope

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Website currently features a story about a weavers' co-op in Bangladesh. Ethnic Chin refugee women from Burma are using their traditional weaving skills to earn their own money instead of depending on handouts from UNHCR or local Bangladeshis. The goal of the program is to empower the refugee women in the co-op as well as to help them become self-sufficient in a country where it isn't easy to do so. When women have their own money and they have the leeway to make choices for themselves, their families benefit, as well. This project rings a familiar note for us at A Little Something since our goals and beliefs are very much the same. Click here to read the entire story.

The Blue Sweater
The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World is author Jacqueline Novogratz's memoir of a life spent trying to understand and document global poverty. From her Website,,

It all started back home in Alexandria, Virginia, with the blue sweater, a special gift that quickly became her prized possession—until the day she outgrew it and gave it away to Goodwill. Eleven years later in Africa, she spotted a young boy wearing the sweater, with her name still on the tag inside. That her garment had made it all the way to Kigali, Rwanda, where she was helping a group of African women start a micro-finance bank, was ample evidence of the way we are all connected, and how our actions—and inaction—touch people every day across the globe, people we may never know or meet. This awareness continues to drive her efforts to fight poverty, and to bridge the gap between rich and poor.
Novogratz has managed to tie together her experience as a venture capitalist in developing nations with her idealism and optimism into a story that will inspire readers to look for ways to effect real change.

Women Leading for Livelihoods
Imagine our surprise at coming across this project on the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Website. It was like reading a page from our own book, another telling of the A Little Something philosophy:

This UNHCR initiative is aimed at promoting the economic independence and
empowerment of refugee and displaced women and girls around the world. For WLL, women are not victims or passive recipients of aid; with access to the proper
resources, they are capable of changing their lives and those of their children,
families and communities.

Refugee and displaced women face a series of barriers to work: legal restrictions, physical and psychological trauma, lack of financial resources, child care issues, the wrong skills for their environment, and much more. WLL aims to break down these barriers through the funding of a full range of programmes aimed at empowering refugee and displaced women. Projects range from language and vocational training to classes on farming , marketing and computer literacy as well as basic courses in finance and how to get access to business centres and savings and loan schemes.
Read more about Women Leading for Livelihoods here.


The Women’s Crusade

The liberation of women could help solve many of the world’s problems, from poverty to child mortality to terrorism.

In August of this year, New York Times journalist Nicholas D. Kristof and investment banker Sheryl WuDunn wrote an extensive article about the plight of women struggling to survive and get a foothold on basic human rights throughout the developing world. Thanks to the availability of micro-finance business and development programs, women are making progress toward a better life, one at a time. The article points out the powerful effects of micro-finance projects and specifically addresses the benefits to women in parts of the world where they often suffer the most and have the fewest rights. With structured programs, small loans, and the opportunity to begin entrepreneurial ventures, women are changing lives far beyond their own.

To access the entire article, click here.

The article includes an audio slide show and a short video about women who are newly empowered and whose lives are being transformed by their participation in the micro-finance movement. Additional information about the Kristoff and WuDunn's Half the Sky Movement (get involved!) can be found here.

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