The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for all of us. During this uncertain time, we are proud to introduce the Mutual Aid program.
Pre-COVID19, Asian Refugees United focused on Art and Healing, Leadership Development, and Civic Engagement, mainly with Bhutanese and Vietnamese Community. Since the COVID-19 hit the community resulting financial challenges, mental and emotional challenges, many of our community members lost their job, community members were hit with confusions and uncertainties. Due to lack of resources, mental health crises, and language barriers, these communities experienced high level of challenges to navigate the online EDD system and grants available for rent. Businesses in the community came to a halt. Business leaders didn’t know where to go to get the support.
Thanks to many rapid response and covid relief funds, we funneled our efforts into building a mutual aid network that would be used long-term for on-going crises to come. Below are some directed programs that we executed.
Pictured above: a zoom screenshot of a "Healing Together" session
As a refugee community, many of our members are low-wage workers in industries including restaurants, beauty shops, car wash, gig economy (Uber, Lyft, Doordash). Many people immediately faced a lost of income and for primary breadwinners, they are feeding a large household of family members including elders. We wanted to train more volunteers on how to navigate the complicated EDD system. We partnered with Asian Law Caucus to conduct a EDD training for volunteers.
18 people from the Bhutanese and Nepalese communities received the EDD training. These people were able to help their family and community members who needed EDD related support.
Neesha, who participated in the training, says, "I am a college student on a break. I got trained for EDD to be able to help my community members. My father was also laid off from his job due to COVID-19. I was able to help my family first by getting the resource. Once I helped my father, I was also able to lend support to other family members with EDD and language supports."
With the support of the volunteers, our community members learned to apply for EDD, track their EDD process online, and certify for the benefits. They are self-sufficient.
Health Care Provider
ARU was able to fund Sahayeta's Free Tele-Health Clinic for Himalayan Community. Nisha Thapa, Nurse Practitioner and Co-founder/Executive Director of Sahayeta, says:
"We are very grateful to have funding for Electronic Health Record for our Sahayeta free tele- health clinic which is all volunteer driven for the uninsured community.
We were spending significant time charting on two places before your funding. I had to call in all the prescriptions to the pharmacy. First names and last names of our community members are very difficult for US health professionals. I would often get call backs on 80% of the prescriptions that I would call in . Everytime, I called in a prescription, I always had this anxiety of pharmacists calling me or patients calling me back because pharmacists were unable to find their name in their system.
My workload has reduced by 50 % since we got funding for this EHR. I have a sense of peace and security when I send a prescription through this EHR, Practice fusion. Additionally, I don't have to chart in multiple places. I am able to see more patients due to the efficiency of this system.
We have provided care to over 100 plus patients via this initiative and we would like to extend our gratitude for your generosity."
Learn more about Sahayeta's work here: www.sahayeta.org
Healing Together is a circle where Bhutanese and Nepalese youths from different states join weekly to check in with each other and have dialogues about various important mental, emotional, social and political issues. It is a safe and healing space where youths talk about racism, casteism, forming habits, connecting with ourselves, and taking care of our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health. Very often the circle invites guests from LGBTQI+ community, artists and activists.
Shreejana, one of the youth participants from Ohio, says, "I really like participating in the healing circle because for me it’s a form of reflection. It helps me reflect on my week and on the things going on in the world right now. It has helped me de-stress because I am able to voice out my thoughts and emotions regarding different topics we have discussed. It’s a space where I feel safe and secure enough to say what I truly feel because I know that my thoughts are being valued and respected. Healing Together is a space for our community members to build connections, uplift each other, and heal together."
Participants from the Healing Together circle will create their own circles related to issues they feel deeply passionate about in their own communities.
The next two healing together circles that the youths are planning to begin are: Women Group Circle and Group Health Coaching Circle. If you are interested to participate in either of these groups, please sign up below: Apply to join Healing Together Circle
One of the most immediate needs was cash assistance. Without jobs to pay for their rent, groceries, and medical supplies, families needed immediate access to cash. On top of that, many of the services offered through local government and community centers were inaccessible because of language barriers. Our leadership team phonebanked the community and was able to give out $10,500 in cash to about 25 community members from Bhutanese and Nepalese communities.
One of our recipients shares:
"I would Like to thank...Asian Refugees United for the kind support of $500, while I was suffering through the pain of unemployment and scarcity of money, specially as an undocumented immigrant like me. I used the amount to pay my one month’s house rent which was a huge relief for me at that hard time. I heard about this organization and it’s great support to the community from my friend and other people, which is really appreciating. Thank you once again."
Since May 4, 2020, Robin Gurung, ARU's Executive Director, has been leading zoom yoga sessions (Monday-Friday from 8:00-8:30am). These classes are attended by Bhutanese community members from many states along with friends and families from other partner community members.
One of the attendees is Khari. She says, "I like yoga. Before the pandemic, I would be doing physical exercises outside. Since shelter in place, I was not able to do this. This affected my sleep. Yoga has been helping me take care of my body. I feel better and happier when I start my day with yoga."
We value physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing especially during this time of the pandemic.
If you want to join the online yoga class, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org