Voices from the Field – IRC Blog

International Rescue Committee (IRC) Refugee, Staff & Volunteer Blog

Archive for September, 2007

This Week’s Voices

Posted by The IRC on 28 September, 2007

Robb Walker, right, attaches an artificial arm and hand to Sierra Leonean refugee Kai David Boima, left, at the West Texas Rehabilitation Center.
Photo: Nellie Doneva/Abilene Reporter/News
Bill Clinton on IRC projects to educate kids in conflict zones

– Melissa Winkler shares news of an Emmy nod for a 60 Minutes story featuring the IRC

– Refugee resettlement director Leslye Boban gets back to her Rocky Mountain roots

– Emily Holland’s new video looks at how IRC teachers are helping children in Darfur

– Refugees who fought the odds are building new lives in Abilene, Texas

– NPR’s story on Iraqi refugees resettling in Atlanta with IRC’s help


Posted in refugees | Leave a Comment »

Video from the Clinton Global Initiative

Posted by Kate Sands Adams on 28 September, 2007

The third annual Clinton Global Initiative conference wrapped up today in New York City.  Former President Clinton hosted the three-day gathering, which brought world leaders together to help devise solutions to pressing global challenges such as climate change and education for children in conflict zones.

In this video from UNICEF, Clinton welcomes partners of the Initiative, including
IRC president George Rupp, and Peter and Jennifer Buffett, founders of the NoVo Foundation, who were recognized for a NoVo-funded IRC program to expand educational opportunities in West Africa.

Also singled out were plans to extend the IRC’s “healing classrooms” program to Afghanistan. 

In another education-related project, UNHCR goodwill ambassador Angelina Jolie announced that planning was underway for a distance learning program for 150,000 refugee children.  It will be a cooperative effort involving Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, UNICEF and the IRC.  

Posted in Africa, Asia, children, education, news, refugees, video, war | Leave a Comment »

Emmy Nod for 60 Minutes Darfur Story Featuring the IRC

Posted by Kate Sands Adams on 28 September, 2007

Sudan Chad
Photo: Neila/The IRC
IRC emergency communications director Melissa Winkler e-mailed me some good news this morning:

“Just learned that Scott [Pelley] and his 60 Minutes crew won an Emmy this week for Searching for Jacob, the story about his search for a boy whose school books were salvaged from a destroyed North Darfur village and who ended up finding refuge in our very own Oure Cassoni Camp in northeastern Chad.”

You can read the story and watch the video here.

Posted in Africa, children, Darfur, news, video | Leave a Comment »

Leslye Boban, Refugee Resettlement Director, Boise

Posted by Wynne Boelt on 28 September, 2007

Leslye Boban
Photo: The IRC
While Leslye Boban enjoyed working for the IRC in Miami, she wanted to get back to her Rocky Mountain roots. So when the opportunity came to head the new resettlement office in Boise, Idaho, she jumped at the chance. Boban opened the office in January, 2006. She was the lone staff member, had no computer and used a box for a chair.

In February, 2006, she hired Rabiou Manzo, case manager and Bryson Nalder, employment services specialist, and they soon received their first clients. The first refugee family was showered with attention, Boban recalls, because there were no other clients. Activity in Boise has picked up and three other staff members, Jim Briggs, account technician, Keziah Sullivan, community outreach specialist, and Aliza Wenk, temporary caseworker assistant, have been hired. Since opening the IRC resettlement office in Boise has resettled over 300 refugees.

Before opening the Boise office, Boban was the IRC resettlement director in Miami for four-and-a-half years. The biggest difference between the two offices, she said, is that Miami is an “anchored case” site, where only refugees with already established families in the area are resettled. Boise is a “free case” site, where refugees generally have no connection to the community. Resettlement involves helping refugees find everything from furniture to apartments to jobs.

“It’s much more personal and involved. We’re their everything,” Boban said. “They depend on the IRC to inform them about what they need to do and to know.”

Boban often sees her clients in stores or working around town, and enjoys checking in on them casually. Boban knows every refugees the IRC has resettled in Boise on a first name basis. Because the IRC office is small, she said she feels she is making a difference in people’s lives and witnessing their successes first hand.

“It’s a treat to be exposed to so many cultures and languages,” Boban said. “I wouldn’t know what to do with myself otherwise.”

Boban has been working with Project SOAR, an IRC program that provides organizational technical assistance to organizations created by and for refugees, as an expert advisor in strategic planning and effective leadership since 2005. Her contributions to Project SOAR as a member of the Field Advisory Network play an integral role in the project’s success in working with ethnic-community based organizations.

Originally from Boulder, Colorado, Boban completed her undergraduate studies in international affairs at the University of Colorado in 1989, and served in the Peace Corps from 1990 to 1991. From 1993 to 1994, Boban performed HIV/AIDS research and prevention work in Rwanda. She earned a graduate degree in development and management at The School for International Training in Brattleboro, Vermont in 1994. From 1994 to 1999, she worked as a program officer for Family Health International and traveled to Asia and Africa often. She married her husband, Slobodan, in 1995.

In 1999 Boban returned with Slobodan to his native Croatia, where she got a job with the IRC as a program manager in resettlement. She worked her way up to deputy director before helping close the office in 2001. She also closed the IRC’s Vienna office in 2001. The office had been open since 1945. Closing it was like closing a piece of IRC history, Boban said.

Posted in refugees, UnitedStates | Leave a Comment »

Darfur’s Children

Posted by Emily Holland on 26 September, 2007

Video: Emily Holland/The IRC
At such an innocent age, they’ve experienced more than adults ever should…so just how does the International Rescue Committee help the next generation of Darfurians?  “Child friendly spaces” are safe, welcoming centers which the IRC has created to help Darfuri children learn, play and start to heal.  I visited one recently and spoke to IRC teachers – we call them “animators” – who work to provide children with the support they need and, despite what’s happened to them and their families, encourage harmony and a culture of peace.

Posted in Africa, children, Darfur, emergencies, video | 10 Comments »