LifeCycles Global is an NGO/NPO/NRO focused on the assimilation of newly arrived refugees from war torn nations. As our name & logo suggests, we seek to provide each new family with a bicycle, lock & helmet to use for recreation, socialization & as their 1st means of transport to help them assimilate into their new country. We receive donated bicycles of nearly every condition & have them refurbished to like new condition by 2 professional bicycle engineers. We focus on adult and teen bicycles but in few a situations we also provide recreational bicycles & riding toys to the smaller children.
We chose the name LifeCycles for many reasons, however, there are 2 primary focuses. The first is the bicycle component as described above. The second is much more in-depth. As Americans, we have become adaptive to constant change, stages of life, as well as the cyclical nature of our nation, family & friends. Therefore, LifeCycles emerged.
We use the bicycle as our "vehicle" to develop relationships with newly arriving families. As it quickly develops, we try to help provide them with basic needs that are not met by their intake agency or other aid groups. For example, a family of 4, upon arrival, will receive per person 1 roll of toilet tissue, 1 towel, 1 blanket, 1 pillow,1 mattress, 1 chair, 1 toothbrush, 1 cup, 1 plate, 1 bowl. As a family they receive 1 table, 1 tube of toothpaste, 1 rice cooker, 4 piece cookware, 1 bottle of dish soap, 1 bar of bath soap, 1 brush, 1 bottle of shampoo, & 1 trashcan. If they are incredibly fortunate, their agency will provide some sort of couch or seating furniture. As you can see, this is a little better than what they are coming from. After seeing this time after time after time, we felt moved to help these people to provide the comforts of a real home so that their focuses would be on the massive tasks ahead of school, work, language & cultural integration. Some of the items we try to keep "in stock" are actual comforters, multiple towels & wash cloths, more toiletries, laundry soap, more dishes, weather appropriate clothing, a second &/or third trash can, school supplies/uniforms and a host of other incidentals. Imagine your home without even 1 pair of scissors or 1 screwdriver or 1 dish towel or 1 cleaning agent or 1 laundry basket or....... We aren't providing oppulence here, we provide basic necessities.
In addition to tangibles we also provide intangibles such as helping them learn the metro system, showing them their neighborhood grocery, helping them use their food assistance cards, filling out mountains of paperwork, showing them the maze of job search options, leading them towards a stable financial future by helping them to open checking & savings accounts, we offer calm & knowledge & comfort in traumatic situations, including rushing them to the ER, taking them to clinics & holding their hands because they are so frightened of the big hospital style facilities and all the new faces that do not speak their language & are many times less than welcoming. Not to mention the overall debacle that is our healthcare system. We lend moral support and offer spiritual guidance to their place of worship. We show them how to buy a phone & calling card so that they may tell their loved ones that they have arrived here safely. We go to the hospital with expectant mothers as they deliver their babies in an enviroment that is so foreign to them and frightening beyond our imagination. They have been giving birth alone in the jungle for centuries and we force them to go to a strange place & ask them to allow strange people to peer at their most personal parts & then come at them with all manner of sharp intruments and strange machinery. Frightened doesn't even begin to describe how they must feel.
LifeCycles works with several agencies and advocate groups in the area as well as national & international aid agencies.The intake agencies are woefully understaffed and underfunded. Most of the staffing consists of former refugees who can be hired at low wages & are valuable bc they serve as translators. These caseworkers are given hundreds of clients and are literally overbooked. This is where LCG steps in, as a support to the refugees when the agencies either cannot or will not step in. In January we received an award of appreciation from the "BAAT", Burmese American Association of Texas, for our advocacy and dedications to its people. What an honor!!! We keep good contact with the UNHCR both as a resource for information and also in the role of advocating for refugees. We are followed by people from across the globe and people from many nations who are interested in what we are doing.
During the recent violence in Egypt we were in constant communication with a street protester until he was imprisoned. After his release he sent a personal thank you to us via twitter for retweeting his countries plight around the globe. We are currently working with some Syrian protestors on the same level. During the Lybian uphevel last year we were in contact with yet another protester. Currently we are working to make inroads with aid agencies in Malaysia to locate and rescue a 14 year old unaccompanied minor that is trapped in slave labor. Social media is the single best way to get across red tape & velvet ropes & bureaucratic blockades. We intend to keep using our "voices" to show the world what is HAPPENING in the world.
Imagine living your whole life on the run. Living in forests for years like an animal. Losing children, husbands, wives, parents etc. to illness or murder by the rebel army. Imagine minding your own business, plowng your centuries owned family field for just a little food for your house and being mowed down in mid field. Now imagine that before you were asassinated you watched as the army burned your house with most of your family in it. Your wife and daughters are dragged out of that house, brutalized, then murdered while you were forced to watch. If you are fortunate enough to have somehow escaped with your family into the forest, you will run for days in the direction of nowhere in particular. You will sleep during the day time in short spurts and literally run all night. You will lose at least one family member in this horrific journey. You will reach a refugee camp after 2 or more years of being on the run. The refugee camp is hosted by a hostile nation that may or may not allow you in, and may or may not shoot you on sight or turn you over to the enemy for all manner of torture. You will apply for assilym to another country for 10 or more years. You will finally receive permission to leave to only God knows what country. You will then spend the next year being probed, tested, interrogated & indoctrinated before you depart. You are told that your new country will not like you and that it will be extremely difficult to survive there. You are sent on a plane, of which you have never so much as seen before, and you hang on for dear life for 24-36 hrs until you reach your place of resettlement. This is not the story of one family. This is the story to nearly every refugee we meet.
Upon arrival all of the items they are "allotted" come from their government loan. Yes, thats right, a low interest loan of $900 per person. This must pay for their housing & furnishings & other needs. After resettlement of 3 short months they will receive a bill from Uncle Sam asking them to pay back all of the money + airfare + administrative costs effective immediately. Welcome to America. You are now in debt! They are allowed only 1 three months extension. They must be enrolled in ESL classes, have a job & children must be in school within the first month. They only receive food stamps & medicaid for the first 6 months. They can reapply for those for the children however the food stamps are barely enough to feed 2 people, let alone a family. Beacause you do not speak the language & have virtually no transferrable job skills employment is extremely hard to come by. Thanks to companies such as Tyson & Pilgrims Pride there is "hope". They lure them into working at their chicken plants by promising $8 per hour. Upon arrival they are told they must live in company housing for $300 per month for rent & the will work only 35hrs per week max. These plants are 2-3 hours from home and without transportation they rely on others to see their families on a bi-weekly basis....for a fee of $100 per person per trip. With it being the weekend there are virtually no opportunities to job search. Depression sets in and the trap is sprung.
Although we are an NRO (non religous organization), we are Christians & we openly live our lives as such in front of the populations we serve. We seek to live out Matthew 25:32-40. It's our calling. It's who we are. It's why we were made.
Please join us in prayer for provision & favor for LifeCycles Global & consider being a monthly giving partner. We are so grateful for our friends, family & acquaintences who have caught the vision of LifeCycles. Thank you for your interest in LCG! We can be reached at 832.455.8853, 10721 Sandpiper Dr, Houston 77096, Life Cycles-Houston on facebook, @givealifecycle on twitter & we have just launched the new and improved lifecyclesglobal.org!
"They will be great!" "Spread the word, Spread the love"
Jeremy Howell & Laurie Stone-Howell