Sunday, December 16: Visit SIFE Gift Table to Help Nashville Immigrant and Refugee Students
Help Nashville Immigrant and Refugee Students
Many of us were touched and motivated by the UUSC Justice Across Borders program we learned about as our Share the Plate charity this month. We can also help support a local population of students who are currently navigating not only the immigration system, but a new way of life in America. Through targeted donations, we hope to help ease the transition and develop life skills for many refugee students within Metro Nashville’s Middle School SIFE, or Students with Interrupted Formal Education program. We have a direct connection to this program through Michelle McGonagle, who is a SIFE math teacher.
Who Are SIFE Students?
Within Metro Nashville’s significant population of immigrants and English Learners, SIFE students represent one category of students with some of the greatest instructional – and social and emotional – needs. These students have limited or no experience with education in their home countries and, in nearly all cases, have experienced trauma. They come to Nashville from nations known for brutal conflicts and refugee migrations, like Guatemala, Yemen, Burma, Syria and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC.)
The Middle School SIFE program, serving approximately 50 students, is located at McMurray Middle School. Historically, the majority of Nashville’s SIFE students come from refugee camps, where many of the children were born and lived their whole lives. This year, slightly less than half the students have arrived as whole families through refugee programs and partnerships out of the DRC. For the first time, there is also a significant Central American youth enrollment. More than 50% of the students come from Guatemala, having arrived in the country during last May’s migration. The majority are here with only their fathers, leaving behind siblings, mothers, and extended family. Most of the Guatemalan children are of Mayan descent. They speak little to no English, only basic conversational Spanish, and a number of Mayan dialects for which translators and materials are not readily available. A number of these students made the long dangerous journey to America, where they were then taken from their parents or guardians at the US border and detained in youth facilities across the country for months or weeks at a time. Once reunited, these students were resettled in Nashville as their families await legal proceedings. Multiple families live in small apartments. Fathers often travel for days or weeks at a time for work.
All the SIFE families live well below the poverty line. All have been in the country for less than a year, some having arrived within the past few weeks.
What are Student Needs?
One immediate and pressing material need for these students is access to basic hygiene products. While other needs exist, consumable goods like soap, toothpaste, and deodorant are rarely available through other venues. When they are, they are quickly exhausted through use by an entire family or household. These students, in addition to all the other aspects of their realities, are middle school adolescents navigating the very human realities of puberty.
For this special fundraiser, donations will be used to purchase bulk materials that will be given to the SIFE math classroom. Students will produce their own deodorants, toothpastes, and other personal hygiene products while learning about fractions, decimals, ratios, and pre-algebra concepts in a meaningful hands-on way. In addition, this will send a message to students that they are capable of being agents in their own lives.
How to Donate to the SIFE Math Classroom
Sunday, December 16, visit the SIFE Donation table to participate in this project The donations will follow a Heifer model.
You can purchase “Shares” in this project.
Shares in SIFE Math Classroom Project
$50 for 16 x 12 fl.oz portions of soap.
$50 for 15 8 oz bottles of lotion (especially valuable to the kids).
$35 for refills of soap or lotion.
$25 for 15 deodorant bars.
$10 for 6 chapsticks.
You will receive a GNUUC “Peace” holiday card that explains the donation.You can give this card to loved ones during the holiday season as a gift.
GNUUC will collect the money and purchase the materials.
The materials will then be given to the SIFE math classroom (where Michelle McGonagle is a teacher). Students will produce their own deodorants, toothpastes, and other personal hygiene products while learning about fractions, decimals, ratios, and pre-algebra concepts in a meaningful hands-on way. In addition, this will send a message to students that they are capable of being agents in their own lives.
If you are unable to attend on Sunday, you are welcome to mail a check made out to GNUUC with SIFE in the memo field, or contribute to SIFE in Breeze.
For more information about SIFE, please contact Michelle McGonagle.
We are treating this as a “pilot” project. If it goes well, we hope to create more opportunities to support the SIFE program in the winter and spring.