June 5, 2017
–Edit: We have raised over $7,000 for Zu’s trip to World Refugee Day and American Refugee Committee. We are still accepting donations, as all additional donations will go towards teams of those competing in the 5K race. Find out more about each team here. —
For the past several years, The SweatShop and its’ staff and clients have proudly supported The American Refugee Committee (ARC), raising thousands of dollars to benefit the Changemaker Program—an initiative designed to give flight to the dreams born out of refugee committees.
The SweatShop is committed to helping Zu get to Uganda and to support this World Refugee Day venture. The travel expenses, including her week with ARC in Uganda, air fare from MSP to Kampala is $4000. Two staff and a member have started off the fund with $100 each. Gayle has added $1000 this. As members of The SweatShop community, will you help us raise the balance of $2700? You can write your checks to Sweatshop and note ARC/Zu on the memo and drop them at the Sweatshop front desk. Your contributions would be greatly appreciated and we will make sure to invite you to an evening of ARC learning with Zu in July. We would be happy to provide more information about ARC and their work around the world. We know you will be moved by Zu’s attached letter.
As the first-generation daughter of two Ugandan refugees, this World Refugee celebration in Uganda resides near and dear to my heart. As teenagers my parents were displaced from their homes, separated from their families and spent years travelling between refugee camps that were continually under siege in The Sudan, present-day South Sudan and The Democratic Republic of Congo. Resources that we often consider “unlimited” were scarce and the lines defining poverty and insecurity were drastically redrawn.
Without the support of refugee relief organizations and the generosity of strangers across the world, my parents would not have had access to the food, clean water, shelter or education that undoubtedly led them to the U.S. so that they could cultivate better lives and opportunities for themselves and their children. Along with the promise of opportunity, stability and security, my parents instilled a strong sense of responsibility to give back what I can within my capacity. They are living proof of the light that shines when individuals band together through periods of darkness.
As part of the international community, we’ve all experienced a degree of the tumultuous current state of affairs in regards to refugees both here at home and abroad. ARC works to collaboratively rebuild and restructure refugee communities using their resources and the insight of the people they work with to make sustainable and uniquely effective plans towards progress after devastation. Though ARC recognizes the importance of providing stability and the necessities for survival, they have experienced the creativity and pure, unbridled talent within their settlements that speaks to the beauty of humanity amidst struggle and hardship. Their teams took to the ground to ask residents what they enjoy doing and, among many responses, one of the resounding replies was the value placed on team and community activities. From organized team sports, to performing or visual arts, ARC has witnessed incredible ability and empowerment through these mediums of expression.
As a health club, we wholly understand the importance of a safe outlet for creativity and the support of community in the attempt to find balance within hectic lives. Though there are surely a multitude of environmental differences, it comes as no surprise that the communities that ARC supports are in search of the same thing. The World Refugee Day 5K–in collaboration with the The Olympic Refugee Team that captivated us with their athleticism, perseverance and inspirational stories– aims to raise money to fund similar community initiatives in the Nakivale region and ARC has asked us as supporters to help make these dreams a reality.
Coincidentally, after devastating civil conflict of its’ own, Uganda has become a refuge for hundreds of thousands of displaced persons from all around East Africa currently experiencing similar violence, instability and insecurity. As a country, Uganda has opened its’ arms and taken a stance for humanity. I passionately believe in a commitment, to not only coexist, but to use the privileges and resources I have been granted to support those who may be in need–aligning very closely with the mission of ARC.
ARC as an organization does an exemplary job of putting our capabilities into perspective. I’ve fallen in love with their commonly used phrase, “Do the doable”, simply urging their supporters to take action within their means; no matter how big or small the ripple, it is still part of a greater effect.
With Gayle’s support, I have been offered the amazing opportunity to join ARC in the Nakivale settlement this June for World Refugee Day and the 5K race that will take place in Uganda to help raise money for future empowerment initiatives. In the years that I’ve been a part of the SweatShop community, I’ve been held with boundless amounts of support and love, and have witnessed that compassion channeled into numerous organizations and/or causes. This community’s commitment to advocating for ‘all things good’ is the reason I am asking you to join me and The SweatShop in supporting ARC by pledging anything you can towards this World Refugee Day venture.
For decades, The SweatShop has been making waves and providing support for a variety of different social platforms. I am resolute in my personal responsibility and passion for ARC’s work, and I believe that together we can create a ripple that will certainly benefit the greater effect.
With unending gratitude and love,
Andezu Orionzi (Zu)
167 Snelling Ave N.,
Saint Paul, MN 55104