A look back at World Refugee Day 2019

On June 19, in honor of World Refugee Day, Canopy dedicated our Instagram story to our amazing families. We spent all day sharing photos and memories of our Canopy Moms, Dads and kiddos.

For those of our supporters that do not have an Instagram account, we have compiled the story into video format for you! Enjoy.

We are so honored to stand with and support these amazing and wonderful new arrival families.

YALLA!

World Refugee Day!

Today is World Refugee Day, a day for the world to commemorate the strength, courage, and resilience of millions of refugees and show support for families forced to leave their homes due to persecution or conflict.

More than 68 million people around the world are refugees or internally displaced. According to the recent report published by the UNHCR (The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), in 2017 someone was displaced every two seconds. Today, the number of refugees worldwide has reached a record high.

On World Refugee Day, I present you with a call to action. We must all think about what more we can do to help. The answer begins with unity and solidarity. We stand together, or we fail. As long as there are wars and persecution, there will be refugees. On World Refugee Day, I ask you to remember them, stand with them and welcome them into our community.

Their story is one of resilience and courage. Ours must be one of compassion and action.

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Help Canopy support our friends who have resettled in Southern California, as they wait for America to welcome more refugees so they can once again be reunited with friends and family. Stand with us as we continue to help them find their footing in this foreign country, whether it be by helping send their kids to college, finding employment opportunities, or simply providing the necessary items to care for their newborn babies.

Together we are stronger!

https://www.claremontcanopy.org/donate

YALLA!

Christy
Director and Founder, Claremont Canopy

 

Graduation!

The school year has ended here in Claremont, we are always beaming with pride at the end of the year with the accomplishments of our Canopy kiddos but this year was a special one. We had FOUR of our Canopy girls graduate from Claremont High School. These girls have all only been in the United States for a few years, they came to this country speaking no English and uncertain what their future in America would be. As we sat in the bleachers, we heard the names of these young women be called we watched them cross the stage and get their diploma as their proud parents and family members snapped photos and cheered. It was a very moving moment. When you ask each and every one of our families why they fled their country and came to America they all answer, “to give our children a chance at a better life.” That afternoon was a big step in this process and their journey of resettlement. Rama, Nermen, Dayla and Miriam, we are so very proud of you and can’t wait to see what amazing things you will accomplish as you head off to college next fall. The future is yours!

The story of these four girls is not a unique one, let alone a finished one. Visit our donations page to donate to these girls journeys toward a higher education; or make a general contribution to ensure we can continue to provide resources to all our Canopy kiddos!

We adore you and we are so happy you and your families are here!

Yalla!

Christy

Claremont Canopy Family Iftar!

We held our 2nd annual Claremont Canopy family Iftar. We all agree at Canopy this is our favorite event of the year. It is a time for us to come together and have a wonderful evening with our families. The Canopy team does all the cooking, it is a true labor of love! Thank you Anne, Brenda, Amy, Brian and Jennifer for all the work you did to make this a wonderful evening. And thank you to the Meat Cellar in Claremont who generously donated enough beef Kebabs for all our guests. They were delicious.

We usually have the Iftar at one of our homes but do to the extended “California Winter” the rain left us scrambling for a new venue! Thankfully the pastors of Claremont United Church of Christ, who are steadfast Canopy supporters, offered their banquet hall for us to use for the evening. It was a beautiful and very powerful moment when our Muslim brothers and sisters broke the fast in prayer, surrounded by those of us at Canopy that adore them and in a house of worship that welcomes all expressions of faith.

We made a ridiculous amount of food. I even attempted the Syrian salad Fattoush, I almost had it but had to call in Maysaa at the last minute to help me with the dressing! So close! We had halal lamb, chicken and beef, with beautiful salads and too many sides to count. We ended the evening with coffee, sweets and even a Yalla cake. It was wonderful to spend the evening together and show our Canopy families just how happy we are to have them in our community. We are already looking forward to next year’s Iftar!

Yalla!

Christy
Director and Founder, Claremont Canopy

2nd Annual Iftar in a Jar!

Claremont Canopy held our second Iftar in a Jar event on May 6! The community gathered and donated items to help us help our Muslim neighbors prepare for the holy month of Ramadan! The Yalla baskets included new scarves for the women, socks for the men, some new household items and gifts for the kiddos. Each family member also received an Iftar jar that is filled with dates, snacks and other goodies that can be eaten when they break the fast each day. Thank you to everyone who donated to make this event successful. We are so grateful for our supportive and welcoming community! YALLA!

Ramadan Mubarak!

Ramadan Mubarak to our Muslim neighbors! Sunday was the start of the holy month of Ramadan for many of our Claremont Canopy families! If you are not familiar with Ramadan, the Council on American-Islamic Relations of Greater Los Angeles put together this visual guide on what our Muslim friends have to look forward to this month.

Worldwide, nearly 2 billion people celebrate Ramadan!

Ramadan Kareem everyone!

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April update!

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Hello from your friends at Claremont Canopy!
 
We have been growing at exponential speed! Our canopy now extends even further throughout Southern California. We now are helping over 30 new arrival families resettle in the Inland Empire! That is over 100 people!

BIG Canopy news, we heard back from the IRS (after some delay with the government shut down) and Claremont Canopy is officially a non-profit 501c3 corporation! We are thrilled to have this very big milestone checked off the list!

The support we continue to receive from our community is AMAZING! In March, the Claremont United Church of Christ dedicated a weekend of their March Mission Madness program to support Claremont Canopy. The congregation generously donated supplies for the Yalla Baskets that we will deliver to our families at the beginning of Ramadan! 

And just last week the Claremont Faculty Association awarded Canopy with the “EPIC Humanitarian Award” for our impact on the Canopy kiddos that attend our local schools.We are so lucky to live in a community that supports our mission.


We have had some tremendous family wins as of late! One of our families, after we helped them find steady employment, was able to save enough money to travel and be reunited with their adult daughter, who they had not seen in 7 years since they all fled Syria. On this trip, they were also able to meet the grandchildren they had never met in person. The pictures and video of the reunion had us all in tears. We are so happy to have played a part in this well-deserved reunion!
 
We also had our first Claremont Canopy wedding, the eldest daughter of one of our families got married last month. The reception was beautiful and the bride was absolutely stunning. It was a wonderful time and a real treat for us at Canopy to take part in traditional Syrian wedding festivities. 
 
A big part of our mission is to network on behalf of our families and in January we saw firsthand how using our network can have a profound impact. One our families has an adult son that needed some assistance finding the right resources, he wants to get into the work force and also wants to find an educational setting that will fit his needs. We were able to use our network to get him a meeting with the local Department of Rehabilitation office and he was accepted into their program! He will be well on his way to his dream, finding a job and giving back to his new country. His family was absolutely thrilled and we all feel grateful to have found each other.
 
Our Canopy kiddos continue to thrive, two of our little ones were just recognized at their elementary school. One was named student of the month for her class and her sister was named most improved student for the month. Another one of our middle schoolers, who has become very active in after school activities and successful in her studies, was just recognized as student of the month for her 7th grade class. We could not be more proud.
 
The last 6 months have been a whirlwind of growth and opportunity. We continue to solidify our mission and try to reach as many new arrival families as possible. We simply could not do this without your support. On behalf of everyone at Claremont Canopy, we extend our deepest gratitude for standing with us as we help our new arrival families thrive in the United States.
 
Yalla!
Christy
Director and Founder of Claremont Canopy

A New School Year!

We’re in back-to-school mode at Claremont Canopy. All six of us have kids in the local schools, as do most of our families. We’ve been making sure everyone is geared up and ready this Fall. We’re thrilled to be working with Claremont McKenna College’s Center for Writing and Public Discourse (CWPD) on an initiative to help Middle Eastern refugees with language skills and more. Student volunteers will assist families learning English. They will also tutor kids with school work and instruct adults on completing job applications and resumés. We are also partnering with a Claremont High School student who plans on developing a tutoring program for Canopy children as his Eagle Scout project. He is planning on collecting a group of volunteers who will visit our families homes and also help with homework and practicing English. We are so grateful for the Claremont community and their support of our mission.

We’re lucky to have two fantastic interns join the Canopy team.  Lea Kayali is a senior at Pomona College studying Public Policy Analysis and Anthropology. She’s interested in the intersection between American civil rights advocacy and Middle Eastern communities, an issue close to her heart as a Palestinian American. She interned with various community organizations and policy think tanks before landing at Canopy. She already has brought fantastic insights and organizational skills to all our projects.

Lea Kayali

Lea Kayali

Eli Tanenbaum studied Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies at Pomona College before graduating this spring. He learned colloquial Arabic during a junior year abroad in Jordan, living with an older couple whose extended family lived nearby. He has been extremely generous helping Canopy and our families with language translation. Eli is currently enrolled in the Scripps Post-Baccalaureate Pre-Medical Program and plans to attend medical school.

Eli Tanenbaum

Eli Tanenbaum

We’re looking forward to a school year filled with projects and events to help all of our families become better settled in their new communities!

A Month of Ups and Downs

The last month at Canopy has been full of celebration and joy, and, unfortuantely, moments of hardship as well.

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Our community pulled together when baby Masa, the child of one our families was injured in an accident that left her with shards of glass in one of her eyes. The family rushed to the Children’s Hospital LA, and doctors quickly focused on giving Masa the best care possible. Yet in a miserable twist of fate, on the day Masa was released from CHLA, her worn out dad, Rami, collapsed from abdominal pain. He had to be operated on in an emergency appendectomy. The road of recovery for the family will be long and arduous, but they send their deep appreciation for the love and generosity all you Canopy supporters have shown!

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In a more lighthearted evening on August 4th, Claremont’s monthly Art Walk featured work from a Syrian artist who is donating part of the proceeds of his paintings to Claremont Canopy. New York-based Hadi Toron’s paintings will be exhibited and available for purchase until the end of September at the Claremont Chamber Office.

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In July,  were happy to return to the Islamic Center of Southern California in LA for a meeting with the Muslim Public Affairs Council and the One America Movement.  Both organizations encourage Americans from all backgrounds to come together to unite in their efforts for community integration in their communities. This is at the core of Claremont Canopy’s mission, so we are excited to collaborate with such fantastic organizations!

We want to say Mabrook (congratulations) to one of our Canopy families, in which all five family members received their green cards this week. For most of our families their journey to America has been long, and the outcome, often unknown. After many years of waiting with fear and hope, seeing their name printed on a card that says “United States of America PERMANENT RESIDENT” is a big step in feeling like this country is their new home.

Lastly, here at Claremont Canopy we want to wish all of our Muslim friends a happy Eid al-Adha! The holiday fell on the third week of August this year, as Muslim holidays rotate on a lunar calendar. It is one of the two most holy days in Islam honoring the willingness of Ibrahim to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to God.  Our Muslim neighbors celebrate by gathering together and exchanging gifts. Eid Mubarak!

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This Land was made for YOU and ME!

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Canopy director, Christy here! I hope everyone had a safe and happy Independence Day! The Fourth of July is a festive time here in Claremont! There is a 5k race in the morning, a parade in the afternoon, and fireworks to end the evening. I laced up my running shoes and joined in and ran the Claremont Freedom 5k (yes the rumor is true, my 9 year old beat me. Really...he beat me by a few minutes!) I also walked the parade route with a local organization in town that supports Canopy. I was sporting my bright red Canopy Yalla! shirt for both events. It never gets old to hear folks shout "Yalla!" back at me, even when they don't know what it means. We are close to making Yalla! a household saying in Claremont! If you haven't had a chance to get your own shirt, head on over to our online store at: 

https://teespring.com/stores/claremont-canopy

Our Canopy families enjoyed the 4th of July tradition. Many of them attended fireworks around Southern California! Take a look at Canopy's youngest family member pictured above, looking so festive and adorable in her red, white and blue. I simply can't get enough of this little cutie!

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Earlier in July the Kanjo family, Taghrid, and I were back in Los Angeles! The fantastic folks at Kitchen Table App opened their home to us and the Kanjos shared their culinary secrets as they prepared an authentic Syrian meal for a group of 15! Our very own Taghrid translated for the guests, as Maysaa and Abdul explained each recipe. I am so proud of everyone! After the meal, Maysaa and Abdul shared their journey. They shared details of the trials, tribulations and moments of hope that came with their 6 year long journey from Syria to America. It was a very moving experience and left us all motivated to keep doing more and helping our new arrival families in any way we can. A big thank you and shout out to our partners at New Arrival Supper Club and Miry's List for making this happen!

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We launched a gift card wish list on Amazon, if you are looking for another way to directly help our families. With the recent judicial judgments in our country, it is more important than ever that communities support and rally behind our new neighbors. We have included cards for the essentials, like food and finances, but we also included fun things like Starbucks cards for our teenagers, who have study sessions over coffee after school. I threw in some movie cards as well, as our new friends learn more english they are enjoying taking in movie now and then. Small gestures like this show our Muslim neighbors we are happy they are here. So if you are able, head over to our Amazon gift card list and help us brighten our Canopy families day! All cards will be delivered to Canopy headquarters and distributed to the families!

https://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/P9Z9T23OZMOI/ref=nav_wishlist_lists_4

It has been a busy month at Canopy! And we have a big announcement, I am so excited about this! Canopy will be partnering with the amazing non-profit, "A Country Called Syria" and the Petterson Museum at Pilgrim Place. When the Syrian Revolution started, Maria Khani (co-founder of A Country Called Syria) knew that she had to do something for her homeland, but what? What could be done that would strengthen the world’s connection to Syria in a non-political, non-religious way? The answer was none other than share the beauty of Syria and its people with the world. Stay tuned, this exhibit is coming to Claremont this fall! Yalla!