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  • Writer's pictureVeena

A Birthday Wish in the Era of COVID-19

Today is Ren’s 40th birthday and her wish is to raise funds for Flore Foundation to meet the increase in demand for grants due to the Corona virus.

In this unprecedented time dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, we are collectively staying at home as much as possible, avoiding personal interaction and trying our best to remain healthy. We do what we can to support local business by ordering takeout or making curbside purchases. It is easy to forget the days as one runs into the next. Our mind wanders to thoughts of medical workers, sick friends or vulnerable family members. Reading the news is overwhelming at times, but it reminds us of the suffering around the word. Stories of unsung heroes resound and without these essential people where would we be? Among these services, translators facilitate critical communication. Language Beyond Boarders employs refugees in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in this capacity.

The story of Language Beyond Boarders reminds me of the capacity we have to make a difference when we overcome hurdles, realize intrinsic talents and follow our hearts. Language Beyond Boarders, founded by refugee Amer Alfayahd, is a social enterprise offshoot of Church World Service (CWS), one of the leading resettlement organizations in the United States. In 2010, Amer resettled in the United States and soon discovered he was unable to find a job as an engineer. Initially he lost his sense of self-worth; however, he felt compelled to contribute to his new community. Amer recognized refugees like himself were skilled in linguistics and thus, the concept behind LBB was born. In 2017 he participated in an incubator program sponsored by Assets, a Lancaster-based not-for-profit, and pitched his idea to deliver translation and interpretation services for people involved in the legal and medical fields, social service provides and school districts. By tapping into the refugee community, he formed a pool of employees with a unique set of language skills that could deliver high quality translation services in a variety of settings.

LBB submitted a proposal to Flore Foundation for a grant to deliver language services that meet urgent demands yielded during the COVID-19 crisis. Social services organizations and healthcare providers have requested LBB translate urgent written documents and verbal messages to local citizens to ensure clear communication.

Flore Foundation is eager to support organizations like LBB. We need your help to award grants that empower refugees and transform social enterprises like the one Amer created. Refugees resettled in the United States pursue their dreams – to contribute to their new community, live in safety and provide for themselves and family. They move to places like Lancaster envisioning innovative opportunities and have a profound effect. At a time when people across the globe are called to action to address this pandemic, likewise refugees have an immense impact carrying out essential services. Help Ren’s birthday wish come true — your contribution during this public health crisis benefit small business and refugees more than ever.

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