No one wants to live homeless, alone and afraid; but that’s the reality for our street children. Come walk in the shoes of an eleven-year old street child by going to www.laces.org/journey, where you can spend time looking through the eyes of a homeless child in Liberia, facing his/her choices and deciding their journey for the day. At the end of the journey you will have the opportunity to make an anonymous reflection about your experience.
As you consider gift your to our children, we hope these experiences have given you a deeper understanding of the impact of our program and the opportunity you have to support the L.A.C.E.S. family.
On October 29th 2016, L.A.C.E.S. hosted a Halloween party for refugees. Over 175 people showed up to the Center for Educational Partnership in Riverdale, Maryland, where it was held. We had an amazing turnout of over 30 volunteers, who were all extremely eager to get involved and help with every aspect of the party. It would not have been a success without them.
Children poured in throughout the morning, and many brought along their parents, grandparents, and other family members. It truly ended up being a party for all ages! The kids had a blast with all the games we had set up, we had corn hole, pumpkin sweep, and balloon catch, just to name a few. Our wonderful volunteers also helped facilitate and execute face painting, pumpkin painting, popcorn making, and a photo booth with props that lead to some amazing pictures for the kids and their families.
A nutritious snack table at the back provided fuel for the kids to stay active all morning long, especially when we ventured outside to play some soccer. Coaches from our soccer camp and other volunteers came out to lead games for the kids and get in on the action. At the end of the day when it was time to say goodbye, all the kids received a goody bag filled with snacks to go home with. We received plenty of positive feedback on the event with one dad saying,
“I wish there could be more events like this bringing so many people together from different cultures.”
There are not many opportunities for the refugees in our area to get together like this, and we couldn’t have been happier to make it possible. It was our true pleasure to give these families a time to relax and meet others in their community. We now look forward to having the kids participate in our upcoming winter indoor soccer league, spring basketball camp, and summer soccer camp, where they can make more friends, more memories, and stay active!
When talking about migration, too often we forget that behind numbers and statistics we have human beings. Reporting the focus on humanity is the first step to start solving the current refugee crisis. Here’s a list of great recent movies and documentaries who can help us understand what is like to be forced to leave our homes and our countries, with nowhere to go.
AFTER SPRING (2016)
With the Syrian conflict now in its sixth year, millions of people continue to be displaced. “After Spring” is the story of what happens next. By following two refugee families in transition and aid workers fighting to keep the camp running, viewers will experience what it is like to live in Zaatari, the largest camp for Syrian refugees. With no end in sight for the conflict or this refugee crisis, everyone must decide if they can rebuild their lives in a place that was never meant to be permanent.
THE RESETTLED (2016)
Tzu Chi USA produced a documentary calling attention to the international refugee crisis. “The Resettled” presents the dramatic stories of refugees who are building new lives in America, and forces us to question: How willing are we to put out the welcome mat for foreigners from a distant land?
Full episodes: www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQQmBU_rBpM
FIRE AT SEA (2016)
The film is shot on the Sicilian island of Lampedusa during the European migrant crisis, and sets the migrants’ dangerous Mediterranean crossing against a background of the ordinary life of the islanders. The main characters are a twelve-year-old boy from a local fishing family and a doctor who treats the migrants on their arrival
REFUGEE REPUBLIC (Interactive documentary – 2016)
Camp Domiz is a Syrian refugee camp in northern Iraq. Around 64 thousand predominantly Kurdish-Syrian refugees have sought shelter here. As the number of refugees grew, the camp gradually transformed from a temporary refuge to a makeshift town, where people live and work, go to school, start a business, get married, argue and have fun. Visual artist Jan Rothuizen, journalist Martijn van Tol, and photographer Dirk Jan Visser explored Camp Domiz from A to Z. They bring to life its inhabitants and places in a multidimensional mix of sound, drawings, photo and film.
SALAM NEIGHBOR (2015)
Two Americans head to the edge of war, just seven miles from the Syrian border, to live among 85,000 uprooted refugees in Jordan’s Za’atari camp.
THE LAND BETWEEN (2014)
“The Land Between” offers an intimate insight into the hidden and desperate lives of Sub-Saharan African migrants living in the mountains of northern Morocco. For most, their dream is to enter Europe by jumping a highly-militarised barrier into Melilla, a Spanish enclave on the African continent. With unique and unprecedented access, this film documents the everyday life of these migrants trapped in limbo, as well as the extreme violence and constant mistreatment they face from both the Moroccan and Spanish authorities. It also explores many universal questions, including how and why people are prepared to risk everything, including their life, to leave their country, their family and friends, in search of a new and better life.
Full Movie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vf4N_lHOWEA
THE GOLDEN DREAM (2013)
Juan, Sara and Samuel, three teenagers from the slums of Guatemala, travel to the US in search of a better life. On their journey through Mexico, they meet Chauk, an indian from Chiapas who doesn’t speak Spanish. Travelling together in cargo trains, walking on the railroad tracks, they soon have to face a harsh reality.
We are excited to introduce Elia Gandolfi, L.A.C.E.S. new Refugee Program Intern. He graduated in March 2016 from Bologna University, Italy, earning a Master’s Degree in International Relations. Elia joined our team in June 2016 to help launch L.A.C.E.S. first ever Refugee Youth Soccer Camp.
Tell us about your international experience.
When I was 18, I went to Brazil for three months to join Partlihar, an NGO that helps orphans and street children in a small rural community. That experience literally changed my life, and I decided to get a Master’s in International Relations. Since then, I have collaborated with several NGOs both in Brazil and Italy that specifically work with children, homelessness and those suffering from drug addictions. In April 2016, as soon as I graduated I went to Greece to help with the current refugee crisis. I spent almost two months working in refugee camps helping manage children’s sports and gardening programs, and running a camp kitchen in a huge informal refugee camp. Anyone who lives in a camp for at least one day will never look at the refugee crisis in the same way again.
What made you apply for L.A.C.E.S. internship?
The experience in Greece made me decide to commit to refugee issues and I decided to look for an internship in this field. At the same time, I was also looking for something innovative, which could also stimulate my personal interests. As soon as I found L.A.C.E.S. job posting, I decided to apply right away. I am a great soccer fan and I strongly believe in sports power in promoting integration and solidarity. L.A.C.E.S. commitment both in Liberia and the U.S. clearly embodies this idea.
What do you aim to acquire through this experience?
I think the responsibility of launching and managing the Refugee Youth Soccer Program will deeply improve my personal organizational and administrative skills. Those are qualities you need to develop if you want to work in the International Development field. Moreover, I think the soccer camp will be a great opportunity to facilitate social integration for the refugee children of the D.C. metro area and of course I really want to have a lot of fun!
What is your first impression about living in D.C.?
DC is great! A lot of parks, green areas, cool people, concerts, museums and so many things going on and unexpectedly, a lot of soccer! I will definitely enjoy my stay.