Nation's refugees and immigrants launch fundraising effort aimed at wildfire relief for Western states
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About the RISE Wildfire Relief Fund
In Washington, Oregon and California, historic wildfires have burned more than five million acres, displacing thousands of residents and killing dozens. Thick smoke and hazardous air choke communities small and large up and down the West Coast, the haze reaching as far as New York City.
The wildfires raging across the Western United States are an inescapable crisis, one keenly understood by the nation's immigrants and refugees.
Our hearts ache for what is lost. Entire Oregon towns have been decimated," said Kayse Jama of Unite Oregon. "As a former refugee, I understand what it feels like to be displaced, losing everything. I only have one photograph from my childhood in Somalia. That is why it's so important for immigrants and refugees to stand in solidarity with the people impacted by these devastating wildfires in Washington, Oregon and California. At the end of the day, we are all America. It's time for us to RISE and support our fellow community members, who are suffering as we once did."
It is in this spirit that these new Americans have launched RISE -- Refugee and Immigrant Solidarity in Emergency -- a relief fund for individuals and families impacted by the catastrophic fires.
"While this effort is being led by immigrants and refugees across the United States, we want to bring the larger community with us to support the relief effort," said Nicole Melaku, Executive Director of National Partnership for New Americans. "We hope all who are moved by the stories of resilience coming out of the West are inspired to give."
Funding will be particularly targeted to those individuals and families most marginalized and least likely to receive assistance: Black, indigenous, immigrant, refugee, poor, and rural community members. Already disproportionately impacted by the economic and health consequences of COVID-19, the wildfires only compound their loss and devastation.
Why We Give
No one wants to leave home. We do it to survive. Refugees understand the waves of heartbreak that wash over you when you remember your old neighborhood. The one that no longer exists. We also remember the kindness of strangers, who took care of us in an unfamiliar place. I hope this fund brings the wildfire survivors a moment of rest and peace as they rebuild their lives."
- Basma Alawee, former refugee from Iraq, We Are All America Refugee Organizer with Florida Immigrant Coalition
I know firsthand what it is like to leave everything -- your entire past life behind. My heart goes out to the people who have lost their homes, livelihoods and loved ones, first due to COVID and now the fires in California, Washington and Oregon. We come together to help our fellow community members rebuild their lives, knowing they have us cheering for them and supporting them as they go through this painful and difficult time."
- Carmen Kcomt, former asylum-seeker from Peru, Refugee Congress Delegate for California and Board of Directors Secretary
Beneficiaries of the RISE Wildfire Relief Fund
All funds raised are quickly distributed in the form of direct assistance to individuals and families impacted by the Western wildfires through trusted, community-based organizations.
The RISE Wildfire Relief Fund is administered by National Partnership for New Americans, a multiethnic, multiracial partnership representing the collective power and resources of the country’s 37 largest regional immigrant and refugee rights organizations in 31 states.
RISE Wildfire Relief Fund Partners
The RISE Wildfire Relief Fund was launched by immigrants and refugees across the United States. In collaboration with these community leaders, national and local organizations are signing on to help. To join them, email Stephanie D. Stephens at [email protected]