Baseball brings a community together

“As the pitcher, you set the tone,” begins the coach of Casa Llena.  

“It doesn’t matter what the score is, what the crowd is yelling, or even who’s up to bat; the only thing you can control is yourself. Each time you’re on the mound, it’s a new opportunity to set the tone you want.”  

Self-regulation is one of the many life lessons players learn on IOM’s youth baseball team.  

Along with gameplay and technique, players learn life skills, including taking things one step at a time as they round the bases, and that helping each other is essential to meeting their collective goals.  

The name ‘Casa Llena’ or ‘Full House’ carries its own significance- a baseball term for when the bases are full, and scoring is imminent, it’s a reminder of the value of opening our doors to new neighbors.   

Baseball represents an unlikely connection between arriving Venezuelan migrants and Ecuadorian locals in a predominantly soccer-loving country. But the 20 migrant and local youth brought together through this program see it as an opportunity to form community. 

Yolannys, a 25-year-old Venezuelan migrant, has become close to both her fellow players and their parents. She says that joining the team has made her feel at home in a new country.   

When asked about the program’s impact on her, she describes how coming to practices has helped her keep focused on her goals and that the friends she’s made have given her the encouragement she needed to grow her new business.   

Samuel, a local player age-10, has enjoyed making friends, having fun, and adds that he’s learned a lot about the game from his Venezuelan teammates.  

But for Ximena, 15, the team’s star hitter, she doesn’t notice any difference between her and her Venezuelan teammates on the field. 

National Hispanic Heritage Month 2021

National Hispanic Heritage Month 2021 

 

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, USA for IOM would like to acknowledge two philanthropic organizations with an unwavering eye on financing long-term results and building leadership within Hispanic and Latino communities in the U.S and abroad. 

Citi Foundation, our long-standing partner, has been supporting us to empowering Venezuelan migrants and host communities with entrepreneurship skills, start-up support, and job placement so that entrepreneurs can access sustainable income sources.  

As a leader in US corporate philanthropy, Citi Foundation is setting the standard for private sector engagement and philanthropy in Latin America’s largest displacement crisis in modern history. 

 In the summer of 2021, USA for IOM partnered with Concordia for a live conversation on the  Role of Philanthropy in Humanitarian Response, we were honored to have as one of our three speakers, Hilda Vega from Hispanics in Philanthropy.  

She shared the importance of having more Latinos involved in philanthropy decision-making and serving in leader positions.  This representation is vital to ensuring that funds are allocated in a way that serves the Latinx communities. 

The face of America is more diverse than ever, with nearly one in five people in the U.S. identifying as Hispanic or Latino.   

This community embodies the best of the American values, including family, service, community, and this is evident through their leadership and involvement in the philanthropic sector. 

IOM in Afghanistan: Leave no one behind

Miriam is one of the over 5.5 million internally displaced in Afghanistan; she lost three sons in the recent conflict and has not heard from her remaining living son since he left home to seek a job abroad two months ago. “Being so uncertain about his fate and whereabouts is painful,” Miriam told an IOM worker with tears streaming down her face. Miriam, and many others like her, are dependent on IOM’s Humanitarian Assistance Programme.

IOM’s operations in Afghanistan continue across multiple provinces since the heart-wrenching events of August witnessed worldwide in the news and on social media. More than 630,000 individuals have been newly displaced by conflict this year; almost half of whom left their homes since July and an additional 28,000 have been displaced by disasters.

IOM has maintained a consistent presence in Afghanistan since 1992 through conflict, humanitarian crises, and natural disaster, and we remain committed to supporting the Afghan people, men, women, and children alike, with their immediate humanitarian needs as the first concern. IOM has launched an urgent appeal for USD 24 million to scale up its response to the most pressing, life-saving needs. At this stage, IOM is providing emergency shelter and core relief items to Afghans who have been displaced from their home jointly with the World Food Programme allowing families to receive essential food and non-food items together.

IOM also delivers development and community stabilization programming to support people on the move across Afghanistan. This includes health services, including primary healthcare, reproductive healthcare, COVID-19 response, and mental health support; protection case management and monitoring; support to small businesses; disaster risk reduction; and holistic community development interventions supporting stabilized communities and bolstered resilience.

IOM refuses to abandon the people of Afghanistan, and we are thankful we are not alone in our commitment. As the events in August unfold with scenes of despair and desperation, the US public showed concern, care, and support.

Last year, 2020, marked a record high for US private sector and philanthropic individuals’ charitable contributions. The resilience and responsiveness of the American people to increased and widespread needs throughout the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is encouraging and inspiring. As the need persists, we are confident the response of the US public will as well.

If you are interested in supporting the meaningful, crucial work of IOM in Afghanistan, please contribute HERE.

IOM’s ongoing emergency response for survivors displaced by the earthquake in Haiti.

Last week, Maria Moreno, Head of USA for IOM Operations, met virtually with IOM’s Chief of Mission in Haiti, Giuseppe Loprete, to discuss IOM’s ongoing emergency response for survivors displaced by the earthquake in Haiti. 

Their conversation marks 1-month since a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit the southern region of the country. Haiti is one of the countries most prone to natural disasters in the world. As Chief of Mission, Loprete has worked to ensure that IOM, and our partners, are prepared to respond when disaster strikes and provide long-term recovery support for affected communities.

Day Zero Operations 

Hurricane season in the Caribbean lasts from June to November, and IOM, along with its government and civil society partners, has developed extensive emergency response protocols for when disaster strikes. 

This preparation allowed IOM to mobilize quickly. Within 24 hours, IOM had deployed its team to distribute shelter and hygiene kits, including tarps, blankets, and personal sanitation materials, to those displaced from their homes.  

Lessons Learned from 2010 

After the devasting 2010 earthquake, IOM and its implementing partners dedicated themselves to preparing for the next disaster.   

Haiti developed a national Civil Protection Agency with an extensive network of field officers. This infrastructure allows Haiti to quickly coordinate with state and local bodies when an emergency occurs and has made the country a regional expert in disaster response. 

Meanwhile, IOM has developed mechanisms to act as a first responder to potential displacement events. In Haiti, this includes regularly running emergency operation simulations and mapping shelters and other life-saving resources. 

Another lesson learned from the 2010 earthquake was the importance of building and maintaining trust to humanitarian operations. For IOM, this begins with respecting local knowledge and systems already in place by the government, local associations, NGOs, and community leaders. 

Without these partnerships, IOM would be unable to help those most vulnerable. Loprete explains the reach of IOM, saying, “we cannot stop where the paved road stops. We have to go beyond that. Once we reach those that we think are the most vulnerable, we usually get there and they say to us, ‘no, you have to go further, there are people over there who are worse off.”  

Overlapping Crises Demand Urgent Action 

Providing shelter is currently IOM’s top priority. Many still do not have a roof over their heads as their homes are being assessed for structural integrity.  

IOM is working to avoid the prolonged displacement experienced in the wake of past disasters and is dedicated to supporting survivors throughout recovery efforts in the coming months and even years.   

“Haiti is facing multiple crises,” reports Loprete, including a global pandemic, seasonal hurricanes, and institutional and political crises. He emphasized that this is a moment when we need everyone to come together to do more than recover but to build resilience to face the next crisis. 

How to Make a Difference 

IOM has already distributed 150,000 relief items to 61,000 families in Haiti. Currently, IOM is working to bring these materials the ‘last mile’ to those in the most remote regions who need them most. You can help by donating to organizations that are working with local partners to lead a sustainable recovery. 

If you would like to support the work UN Migration, please donate here: http://usaforiom.org/fundraising-haiti/

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For more live updates on IOM’s work responding to global crises, tune in next month for more from USA for IOM’s new series, From the Field. 

USA for IOM recognizes The Shapiro Foundation for World Humanitarian Day

Photo Credit: Maria Moreno

USA for IOM recognizes the Shapiro Foundation for World Humanitarian Day

Last Month, Ed Shapiro, safely, joined us for our first in-person partner meeting since the outbreak of COVID-19. We were able to share a hard copy of our 2020 Impact Report with him as well as provide an update on the meaningful work he and his network support with their contributions.

The Shapiro Foundation, founded by Ed and his family after retiring from his 27-year career in investment management, almost exclusively concentrates on refugees and immigration. Ed’s personal experiences, passion, and ambition led him to take a deep dive in understanding the history, causes, impacts of, and responses to migration with the desire to identify and support “win-win” opportunities for bottom-up, community-sponsored support of refugees and migrants.

His foundation is an example of one of the four main partner categories USA for IOM engages within the US private sector—individuals, diaspora organizations, corporations, and foundations. USA for IOM considers the Shapiro Foundation to be a remarkable and valuable partnership because the Shapiros see themselves as humans helping humans in an interconnected world with shared values.

The Shapiro Foundation has partnered with USA for IOM and IOM by assisting in the reunification of Central American minors from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala with their families in the United States. The Shapiro Foundation’s partnership stepped in at a time of great need for these families.

2020, however, brought us the COVID-19 pandemic and, over a year later with uncertainty still brewing, the world is undoubtably changed forever. The challenges, losses, and crises shared globally has led to a world with a greater of understanding of just how interconnected we really are— few can say they are personally unimpacted.

For the families awaiting the day when they would be reunited, COVID-19 brought border closures, safety measures, and restrictions in response to COVID-19. These measures necessary for containing the spread of the novel virus also posed unexpected challenges and delays for these families’ reunification with their loved one. In times like these, the value of partners with passion, understanding, and creativity shines even brighter. The Shapiro Foundation adapted the original plan to accommodate the challenges specific to COVID-19.

Our partners, like Ed Shapiro, are one of the most worthwhile and meaningful examples of how people help people. In recognition of World Humanitarian Day, we are honored to feature Ed Shapiro, his family, and the Shapiro Foundation’s passion, ambition, and meaningful efforts for the most vulnerable refugees and migrants.

World Humanitarian Day 2021

I know I’m not alone when I say that this week has been a heavy one. Leading up to this year’s #worldhumanitarianday, and in the wake of recent events in Haiti and Afghanistan, USA for IOM team and I have been reflecting on how fundraising can enhance its impact through proactive, sustainable investment in development.

It is important to note that while last week’s events were sudden, they were not entirely unpredictable. Sitting on a fault-line in the Caribbean, #Haiti is vulnerable to disasters. What makes this event truly devastating is the underlying social and economic instability that will, in all likelihood, prevent a speedy recovery. We are deploying trucks with food and tents to communities still struggling to recover from the devastating 2010 earthquake. And the myriad challenges facing #Afghanistan, which has suffered governance, socio-economic, and development challenges as a result of decades of conflict, are similarly structural and historic.

In responding to these crises, I often feel we are putting bandages on bullet holes. We can take comfort in the Talmudic proverb, “whoever saves one life, saves the world entire,” I feel as though launching emergency relief responses to predictable crises reveals the Sisyphus complex of the philanthropic sector.
To break free from this cycle, we in philanthropy must be proactive and truly start to use our platform and our tools to engender a world that is not less prone to crises, but one with the social and economic fortitude to be more resilient to them. We must focus on the transformation the world needs beyond the crisis du jour and then focus our resources on proactive solutions.

In a way, this also helps answer another question: how do we prioritize emergency responses? When disaster strikes it’s easy to mobilize action for a cause. But once the faces of distant suffering fade from the frontpages, action too begins to wane. In the past I’ve found myself reaching for a bigger, louder bullhorn, feeling the need to scream “look over here, look over there, we still need you here!”

I believe that by shifting philanthropy to focus on addressing the roots of an issue—the systemic challenges that underpin human suffering–we can avoid the pressure to see humanitarian needs as competing, and instead view them as simultaneous. If funders make not only deep but longstanding investments in a cause or region maybe it will relieve the anxiety the fundraising community feels to fight for attention. Moving forward, I want to learn how I, my team as agents to support development and human mobility, can cultivate and encourage that level of donor dedication long before the needs are urgent.

I encourage comments on: How can philanthropy transform our world? What’s the strategy to this game of whack-a-mole? Is it possible to “care” about everything all at once? And how can we translate care into effective, sustained action? #philanthropy

International Community Raises USD 954 million for Venezuela

International Community Raises USD 954 million for Venezuela 

Yesterday, the Canadian Ministry of International Development, alongside cohosts IOM and UNHCR, convened the third International Donors’ Conference in Solidarity with Venezuelan Refugees and Migrants. This annual event marshals the international community to act on their shared responsibility to address this crisis. 

Despite being the world’s second-largest displacement crisis, the Response to Venezuela is severely underfunded;approximately USD 300 has been raised for each migrant 

Throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, governments have maintained open borders, regularized vast numbers of Venezuelan migrants, and extended social services, including health care and education. These humanitarian policies represent an incredible investment from host countries, overextending their administrative and financial capacities- especially while facing a pandemic. 

Donors answered the call to action by giving generously to strengthen the UN’s Regional Interagency Coordination Platform for Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela and to bolster the assistance provided by host communities. 

The conference raised USD 954 million committed by 30 countries, including 407 million from the US, and USD 600 million in concessional loans pledged by the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank.  

Resources mobilized will support the implementation of agile and sustainable solutions that address the diverse and evolving needs of Venezuelan migrants and the countries receiving them. 

Addressing a crisis of this magnitude demands an all-of-society response.Thanks to partnerships with the private sector and philanthropies, USA for IOM is mobilizing critical resources for the Venezuela response.  

In the next half of 2021, we must strengthen these commitments to meet this humanitarian challenge with the resources it requires. More than ever, it is crucial that the private sector acts as a global leader and stands with Venezuelan migrants, refugees, and their host communities.