The past 12-18 months have brought with them health, wellbeing and financial challenges that have been felt across the country and the world. We consider ourselves to be somewhat lucky during lockdown in our homes in relative security as the COVID delta variant continues to spread.
With the opening of the Wollongong CBD vaccination hub and as the health advice evolves, we will be providing in language COVID updates via the SCARF website and via mobilisers to community members. SCARF is working closely with local health and other refugee support agencies to ensure our refugee and CALD communities are included in this critical messaging.
During this year and just as concerning, the local Burmese and now Afghan communities have watched as their homelands experienced further conflict and uncertainty putting thousands at extreme risk, and re-awakening past traumas for those settled locally. I cannot start to imagine how that must feel, but I know the broader SCARF family wants to help, so please reach out to us if you need support due to the varied impacts of COVID or if events overseas have exacerbated personal or family issues for you.
For SCARF, fundraising has become far more challenging in lockdown but no less important to helping support those refugee communities at this time. Please donate to Josh’s “Everesting” challenge, and get in touch if you have an idea that might work as an online fundraiser or if you can support us in some other way.
As we look towards a positive future, we have taken some significant early steps toward the merger with MCCI, with staff working groups now meeting on a regular basis to navigate the complex process of integrating our day-to-day operations. It has been energising to see the shared enthusiasm and commitment to a successful outcome from both organisations and most importantly from the staff, volunteers and the communities we each serve. Every new step just reinforces the great synergies we share and the opportunities for improved services that will be created.
UPDATES & NEWS
DONATE TO THE DIGITAL DEVICE DRIVE
The COVID-19 pandemic brought with it many changes to the way SCARF operated and how refugee communities and indeed the wider community connected. The requirement to put into place physical distancing measures meant that, very quickly, there was an emphasis placed on communicating, learning and connecting online. In 2020 we saw a need in the community for devices to help stay connected so we launched the SCARF Digital Device Drive, which saw over 30 families receive laptops and tablets within the first two months of the pandemic.
This year we have re-launched the drive in response to the need in the refugee community for digital devices, to assist with remote learning, brought on by the renewed lockdown measures. This year we have already distributed over 20 devices and we still have 30 families on the waiting list. We are collecting devices to distribute, and we have also set up a fundraiser for those who don’t have a device to donate.
Donate to our device fundraiser. $100 is enough to buy one refurbished tablet. SCARF will be purchasing devices to re-home during the month of September.
SCARF will be joining forces with MCCI (Multicultural Communities Council of Illawarra) in October to provide even greater support for people from refugee backgrounds starting a new life in Australia.
In recent days we have taken some significant early steps toward the merger with MCCI, with three staff working groups established and meeting on a regular basis to navigate the complex process of integrating our day-to-day operations. The three working groups will focus on
People & Culture,
Services, Brand & Fundraising, and
We have also had two joint team meetings the first to introduce the SCARF employees to the MCCI team and vice versa and the second to introduce our volunteer coordinators to the key MCCI employee group.
There is also considerable work behind the scenes to ensure that our programs and services will continue to run smoothly as we transition to working together.
In true COVID style we are meeting regularly via Zoom to identify key issues, areas of potential duplication and projects that already require a joint approach to planning and funding considerations. It has been energising to see the shared enthusiasm and commitment to a successful outcome from both organisations and most importantly from the staff, volunteers and the communities we each serve. Every new step just reinforces the great synergies we share and the opportunities for improved services that will be created.
DONATE TO THE EVEREST RIDE FOR REFUGEE SUPPORT
On Saturday 28 August, SCARF volunteer and local teacher, will be taking on a tremendous challenge known as ‘Everesting’ to raise funds to support SCARF in delivering our programs and services. ‘Everesting’ is a solo challenge where Josh will ride 8848m of elevation in one ride on a stationary trainer. This feat is expected to take between 12-19 hours!
In the past, Josh and his “Champion” friends have organised 100 riders to champion welcome and raise over $7000 for SCARF. Good luck, Josh!
There are many ways to raise funds, whether it be a birthday fundraiser on Facebook or a raising money to support your personal challenge; reading, cooking, etc. If you are interested in becoming a Champion of Welcome for SCARF and raising funds online, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
LET’S CHAT MOVES ONLINE TO HELP COMMUNITY MEMBERS STAY CONNECTED
This year we rebranded our most loved social inclusion program, Coffee Community Connections, as “Let’s Chat”. The program aims to increase community connection of people coming from refugee backgrounds as well as giving them a sense of security. The program was open to men, women, and families and was delivered by our case worker, bilingual community mobilisers and a dedicated team of volunteers.
This program remains an important way for community members to stay connected particularly during the period of lockdown. In response to the continuing demand for this program and the need to connect, we have moved Let’s Chat to an online platform forum. This sees a group of community members and volunteers meeting every Friday from 10am to 11am over Zoom, and sharing a virtual cup of tea, with Arabic language support provided. Community members are enjoying practising conversation scenarios in English, like going to visit a doctor, and becoming familiar with the online meeting platform.
Arriving in Australia in 2016, Amro fled the Syrian conflict. However, the negative stereotypes of the Middle East perpetuated by the media continued to follow him well into his new life in Australia. Combining art and history, Levant 2 Australia focuses on promoting peace through a language typically associated with war and conflict. Despite the stereotype, founder Amro says that the language has a lot more to offer, his works celebrating the artform of Arabic calligraphy
Amro Zoabe spoke to Lindsay McDougall from ABC Illawarra about his life in Australia and his business Levant 2 Australia
Stephen, Tech Savvy and L2P driver mentoring volunteer
This month, we’d like to thank Stephen for his unwavering dedication to SCARF. Stephen has been volunteering with SCARF since 2019.
Recently, Stephen, who has retired from a career in IT, delivered Tech Savvy, a 5-week training program aimed at developing the basic computer skills of 15 Karenni community members. As a result of his excellent teaching, community members have expressed excitement to keep on practising and to use and develop these skills.
Stephen is also a keen L2P driver mentor who has supported many learners to get their P plates, enabling them to overcome what can often be a barrier to employment and independence.
Please join me in thanking Stephen for his commitment to the SCARF community.
SHOP THE SCARF SHOP
Buy a KeepCup, Champions of Welcome tote bag, pack of gift cards or a Champions of Welcome shirt in 2021. Our website is taking online payments; we accept PayPal and credit card. Please select the postage option for contactless delivery.
The following shirt sizes are in stock:
Women: S, M, L, XL (red, charcoal and orange)
Men: M, L, XL (red, charcoal and orange)
Youth Tee: 10, 12,14 (red)
Kids Tee: 6,8 (red)
100% of proceeds from our merchandise and gifts go to SCARF to support refugee entrants rebuilding their lives in the Illawarra. Where possible, we work with local manufacturers and keep single-use plastic to a minimum.
Do you support the work that SCARF does? A gift of $40 a month will provide refugee entrants in the Illawarra with access to the services that will help them overcome the barriers they face and lead fulfilling lives here in our community.
Settlement in Australia does not guarantee a happily ever after, but SCARF takes the first step in achieving this. We offer friendship to build a sense of belonging and the support, services and tools that lead to independence and empowerment.