Tina Song, member of PBCS and Immigration Committees at AABANY, writes the following urging AABANY members to donate books to the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES):
Raising Awareness, Raising Hope
“So Matilda’s strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships on the sea. These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message: You are not alone.” –Roald Dahl, Matilda
At the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), I represent young children who crossed the United States borders illegally and currently residing in shelters at Corpus Christi, Texas. The population that RAICES serve are children ranging from ages two to seventeen years old. Many of these children have fled their countries to the United States to escape poverty and violence. Violence and abject poverty are oftentimes the moving force that drives these children coming to the United States in search of a chance for a better future.
At my job, I met a young African girl who was raised under an abusive household where her father forced his daughters to follow the customs of a secret society in which the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) is sacred and the norm. FGM is often motivated by beliefs about what is considered acceptable sexual behavior and is often considered a necessary part of raising a girl and preparing her for adulthood and marriage. FGM is mostly carried out on young girls between infancy and age 15.
As a result from this torturous practice, both of her two sisters died from FGM. To escape his guilt and crimes, the father sent her to the United States illegally. During her treacherous travels to United States, her chaperone was murdered and she was raped.
After spending time with my client, I found that her simple wish is to have more English or Spanish books at the shelter so that she can learn English and Spanish to communicate with her friends there.
I implore you, my friends and colleagues at AABANY to consider making a donation to RAICES so that we can provide books for these young minds. You can mail any used books in Spanish that are in great conditions. Please send me an email at [email protected] and I will provide you the address to mail the books to. If you do not have time to purchase books, you can also send me your abandoned gift cards from Barnes & Nobles, gift cards from bookstores redeemed from your credit card points, or any gift certificates from small independent bookstores or Amazon, and I will help make the purchases.
Your used Spanish books or Spanish books donated/purchased will be dropped off by my staff at RAICES or myself to the shelters. I will send you follow-up emails of your donation and purchases.
If you don’t feel comfortable supporting my cause, then please consider donating books to:
One Book One World: https://onebookoneworld.org/2021-aapi-book-drive. One Book One World is co-founded by Zhixian Jessie Liu, one of the co-chairs at the Immigration Committee. Her organization helps raise awareness of ethnical Asian novels and authors by sending such books to New York City’s day cares, schools, and learning centers. One Book One World will has been providing their book lists to us for our cause.
Even if you can’t contribute, feel free to send us book lists and we will use the funds to make the purchases. Please do not send any monetary donations. At this time, we are only looking for books or giftcards to support bookstores, retail or independent, not money. Unfortunately, your kind act will not result in taxable deduction.
But if you are buying books or giftcards from Amazon, please choose the Asian American Law Fund of New York, Inc. as your Amazon smile!!! This way, you can help fund the pro bono clinics run by the Pro Bono & Community Service Committee at the same time. The PBCS’s monthly pro bono clinics, which I have volunteered both in-person and remote, promote legal access to the Asian Pacific Islander community. For more information, visit https://probono.aabany.org/donate.
Your generous donation will bring lots of smiles from these young children and support to the PBCS’s pro bono clinics.
Have a wonderful upcoming Thanksgiving holiday and thank you in advance for your generous support!
Tina Song, Staff Immigration Attorney at RAICES, Member of PBCS and Immigration Committee at AABANY, Volunteer and Immigration Consultant in PBCS’s pro bono clinics.