News from the Week of November 25th

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This week, Vets for American Ideals hosted the last panel in our fall speaker series, in partnership with Global Center for Refugee Education and Science. The panel, entitled “Discussing Solutions to the Global Refugee Crisis,” featured Herrick Ross of Starbucks, Vanda Berninger of 1 Journey Festival, Daniel Mekibib of City of Alexandria Workforce Development Center, Lina Zdruli of Dafero, and Global Center for Refugee Education and Science co-founder, David Combs. We also showcased Zdruli’s product, a delicious date spread made by refugee women.

If you are tempted by holiday sweets but looking for something healthier, check out Dafaro. In February 2018, Zdruli launched the startup to make healthy, organic, gluten free snacks. Working out of a commercial kitchen, the refugee women she employs choose the best type of dates to produce Dafero’s spread. They’ll soon be making almond butter and baking date-based brownies. Read more about Dafaro here.

World War II veteran, author, and activist Harry Leslie Smith died this week at the age of 95. From seeing the faces of those fleeing violence and persecution during World War II to his pledge to tour the world meeting refugees in his final years, Harry was a fierce advocate for the displaced. “Harry’s last stand may have come to an end,” writes UNHCR's Lorey Campese. “But the things he stood for are timeless.”

Ansly Damus, a Haitian asylum seeker, spent more than two years locked up in jail in Geauga County, Ohio with no access to the outdoors, despite having never committed a crime. Thanks to the efforts of our colleagues at Human Rights First and the ACLU, Ansly will now be able to live with his sponsors, Melody and Gary, a couple who visit him weekly and have grown to consider him family. Human Rights First continues to fight for freedom for detained refugees, and to ensure that all asylum seekers have access to release on parole.

Driving with Lyft is the single largest earning opportunity for Iraqi and Afghan interpreters. Thousands already drive on the platform, and more join every month. Lyft provides a flexible job in which these new immigrants can drive full-time or part-time to provide more resources for their families.

Lyft is also demonstrating a strong commitment to veterans and service members. Both veterans and our Afghan and Iraqi wartime allies, who moved to the top of the wait list, receive a free first week rental, and have their deposit waived. If you know a SIV recipient or refugee who may be interested in driving for Lyft, get in touch with No One Left Behind.

Don’t miss this heartwarming love story of a former refugee from Kurdistan, Dr. Helen Sairany, and a Marine, Tyson Manker. Manker surprised Sairany with tickets to see their favorite comedian, Maz Jobrani, at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. What she didn’t know was that Manker had been coordinating with Jobrani and his team to pull off an onstage proposal. "With so much negativity in the world,” Sairany writes, “We are committing ourselves and our future family to an all-American spirit of compassion, open-mindedness, inclusivity and of course, love. After all, that is the only America that we know."