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we believe every human has potential and has an important story to share.

a collection from the people of portland and those supporting from afar

i do not know what my dream

is yet...

"People talk about the American dream, if you work hard in this country you can have your dream. I do not know what my dream is yet. I am working one full-time and one part-time job as a dishwasher. My one daughter, still in Angola, is set to come to the United States in six months. I would like to save some money so that we can have a good life. She has lighter-colored skin than me, like her mother, who died about seven years ago."

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groceries come before barbies...

“My daughter wants me to buy her a barbie. She says I buy things for myself all the time. I asked her, ‘what do I buy for myself?’ she answered, ‘fish, rice, vegetables..’ Life in the United States is different for us than it was in Rwanda. Of course we have barbies in Rwanda, too, but groceries come before barbies. I think I’ll have to look for a ken doll, too.”

pickled herring...

“My in-laws came to the United States from Poland over fifty years ago. They did not speak any English, and started from scratch in their new country. Although their life looks quite different today than it was in the 1960s, they still hold onto many traditions from their home country. for example, on Christmas eve, they welcome newcomers with a piece of salty śledzie marynowanezie (pickled herring) before dinner, as a rite of passage of sorts to the Christmas eve dinner table.”

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hippie days in baghdad...

"I remember once after a poetry reading a lady came-up to me and asked what life was like growing-up in Iraq, and if I had lived in the desert in a tent and rode camels. She was completely serious, and I think my answer surprised her. I explained before the (Iran-Iraq) war, I had lived in Baghdad as a hippie in the 70s. I wore bell-bottoms and had hair down to my shoulders, and my girlfriend at the time was a hippie, too. We loved rock music and Alfred Hitchcock movies. Life changed, of course, and during the war life was incredibly harrowing, as I was held prisoner. Eventually, I came to the United States to paint and write poetry and share about my experiences in Iraq. To this day, I still listen to Aerosmith and remember the hippie days in Baghdad."

no eggs in the liquor cabinet...

" Every single easter was spent at my ستو (Grammie's) house. We would arrive on Good Friday and walk in the door, and immediately the smell of mujadara (Lebanese lentil dish) would hit our nostrils. When she saw us she would always kiss our cheeks as hard as she could, leaving a perfect red lipstick stain. As the night progressed, Lebanese cousins would come in-and-out for visits, and dinner would last so long us kids got tired and played cards at the table. Grammie was such an incredible matriarch of our family and taught all of us how to cook Lebanese food the right way (using your palm as a measuring spoon and so forth). When easter Sunday arrived, we would search for colored eggs around her house, and I remember the treasures from around the world that she had collected over the years from traveling with my جدو (Grandpa). Of course no eggs were ever hidden in his liquor cabinet, but at weddings today we still drink lots of عرق‎‎ (Lebanese hard liquor) to toast the happy couple. "

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a celine dion sing-along...

“ Israel has the best gelato. Every time we went to our favorite gelato spot, the owners would recognize us and immediately turn-on Celine Dion, and all of us would have a sing along! ”

fruitcake in your pillow...

" At Canadian weddings, the tradition was to cut little slices of fruit cake and wrap them individually in foil and tie a doily and ribbon around each slice. The bride and groom would hand-out each slice to guests and thank them for coming. Each guest would put the slice under his/her pillow that night and whoever they dreamt of was a soulmate. "

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his family had nothing and nowhere to go...

“ My dad is a badass. He came to the U.S. from Hong Kong as a kid with nothing but grit. He taught himself English, struggling word-by-word. Like a lot of immigrants, he worked multiple jobs and relied on the kindness of others because his family had nothing and nowhere to go. He understood the value of education and the doors that it opens, so he worked hard until he made it. He met my mom in a hospital and won her over with his broken English and quirkiness. He doesn’t complain about anything because almost 40 years and two grown kids later, he’s happily married and living the dream. ”

ambassadors from a world that had rejected and discarded them...

" Our procession halted in front of a crooked hovel of boards and tin distinguished only by the presence of a door. An ageless woman took my hand in greeting as if I were a lost child. Her warmth seeped from the pools that formed her soft brown eyes. We descended steps into a bunker, dimly lit with two bare light bulbs. Seated before us, some thirty families of Los Bordos, Honduras gathered to receive ambassadors from a world that had rejected and discarded them. I looked upon stone faces etched with deep lines of despair that denied any chance of hopefulness. Then, one by one, men and women stood and welcomed us and so began their stories. As they spoke, the shrouds of poverty fell away and revealed pride and dignity that had been locked away for an eternity. Their bodies, bent by the crushing weight of an unyielding world straightened, buoyed by this moment of recognition. They shared their dreams of a future in which their children would not be hungry or sick; a future that included the simple pleasures of home, a bed, laughter and the possibility of a tomorrow that did not begin and end in the pit of hopelessness. My disbelief was numbing; how could anyone survive this onslaught of cruelty? "

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she hears God's voice and He tells her what to do...

" My wife and I bought our teenage daughter an iphone for Christmas this year. It's a surprise. She is such a vibrant and vocal girl, a minister, like her mother. My wife was very sick when we lived in the Côte D'ivoire, but was healed and it forever changed her life. Now she travels all over Africa with the ministry she started, giving people the medical attention they need and showing them the love of God. She's not here to play church. She's not here to play religion. She's here because she hears God's voice and He tells her what to do. And I always tell her when she travels to Africa by herself being a minister that I'm praying for her, too. "