Beds for Refugees

My name is Jill Galante and I am a yoga teacher in San Diego, California.  Six months ago I was with a friend who mentioned that there was a group of volunteers getting used items to new refugees in El Cajon.  Having seen the horrible photos of refugees fleeing war, I was interested but I was not prepared for what I witnessed.  Refugee families sleeping on floors without blankets, confused by the welfare system, facing dsicrimination and constant fear of eviction.  

I am working with a mother with 7 children and a father who went into a coma shortly after immigrating here.  She has to work both her and her husbands CalWorks hours (152 hours a month) or they will drop her benefits completely.  She has no childcare and no one has thought in the past 6 months to tell her about disability or talk to a doctor about her husbands condition.  They just keep threatning her if she does not make her hours. 

I have met people in apartments infested with roaches and their pleas for assistance from property managers turns into citations for thier children when they leave their bikes out front.  I have sat down to help a family reknew their assistance and even I could not fill out the forms and they were in English.  Here is also what I saw; kind, gentle people who never let me leave with out food or tea.  I have seen letters of miliarty commendation from the US Army for help in translating and in one instance taking down a suicide bomber in a weapons vest.  I have held US army medals and looked at photo after photo side by side with our troops.  This gets these men and thier families visas, but nothing else.  They come here and suffer after having to leave everything and everyone behind.  

I want to keep helping them and I need your help.  Any amount to help these families get beds, fight eviction and maybe buy a barbie sometimes.  Every cent will go to these families as they face numerous struggles in settling here. They need these things but they need to know there are more of us than there are of the unwelcoming voices of hatred.  I want to welcome them and help them start thier lives here.  

Thank you! 

This family has been living here for 28 days.  

We sat on the floor as they have no real beds, or kitchen table and chairs but they made sure we had sweets and tea.  They are still waiting for food stamps and cash aide, so the small amount of money they had is dwindling.  Refugees have to pay 3 months rent and a security deposit because they have no credit.  Average rent is $1500-1700.  I brought this family a bike to help so they arent walking miles to all thier appointments.  They have another daughter and because she is 25, she was considered an adult and she had to be left behind.
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Jill Galante
El Cajon, CA

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