Kenya’s Kids Exhibit at Magic House

NEWS

On behalf of Vitendo4africa and Kenyan Community of St. Louis, I would like to express our sincere thank you for attending Kenya’s Kids Exhibit grand opening ceremony at Magic House. The Magic House’s newest cultural exhibit, Kenya’s Kids, is designed to help Magic House visitors discover what life is like for children in Kenya today. The F4kidz African Kids Dance group did a wonderful performance.

This historic event was attended by hundreds of Kenyans and friends living in St. Louis. In the presence was Senator Kyle McCarter, Tim Nowak of World Trade Center  and Betsy Cohen of St Louis Mosaic Project. Other organizations who were represented includes International Institute St. Louis, St. Louis Zoo, World Wide Technology, Claim Academy and the great people of Kenyan Community of St. Louis. Watch video read more

Census 2020: Local Africans, African-Americans consider how to respond to questions about origins

NEWS

The 2020 census is still two years away, but there is plenty of buzz about what the federal survey will ask, including questions about citizenship and country of origin.

For the first time, people will be able to write in their origins in a blank box on the census instead of just checking a race.

The survey, which happens every ten years, is designed to count the population so federal funds can be allocated across the country. But the new questions about where people come from can generate confusion or suspicion — especially from African-Americans, who may not know where their ancestors originated, or immigrants who believe their responses might be used against them in the future. read more

New groups help immigrants, refugees find their way to services in St. Louis

New groups help immigrants, refugees find their way to services in St. Louis

NEWS

Many organizations in St. Louis have made a concerted effort recently to be more welcoming to refugees and immigrants.

But that doesn’t mean that when people get here they have an easy adjustment.

That process should be made easier, some say, with a new effort called the Immigrant Service Providers Network.

The group, announced Tuesday at the International Institute, brings together local organizations already helping the foreign-born population in St. Louis.

Kenyan immigrant Geoffrey Soyiantet talks about his transition to life in the U.S. A new coalition called the Immigrant Service Providers Network aims to help newcomers adjust and get the services they need when they come to St. Louis. CREDIT KAMEEL STANLEY | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

“We want to make sure we know that everybody knows what each other is doing,” said St. Louis Center For Family Development CEO Nancy Spargo, who is chairing the new group, which has taken the nickname ISPN.  “We want to make sure we’re pulling together, that we are coordinated in our efforts.” read more

Civics & Civility: Religion and the Immigrant Experience

Civics & Civility: Religion and the Immigrant Experience

NEWS

On Aug. 3, 2017, a gathering of engaged St. Louis community members and FOCUS alumni attended a discussion on “Religion and the Immigrant Experience” at CIC in the Cortex complex. This was the first in a series of four Civics & Civility Forums that will be hosted by FOCUS St. Louis and sponsored by the Missouri Humanities Council over the next year.

Providing insights on the overlap of religion and the immigrant experience on were the following panelists:

  • Dr. Anna Crosslin, long-time head of the International Institute whose leadership has helped establish so many of our foreign born St. Louisians in their new lives;
  • Imam Djilali Kacem of the Dar-Al Jalal Islamic Center, much of whose congregation are finding their feet in their new home of St. Louis as Muslims;
  • Dr. Ben Moore of Fontbonne University, whose work with the Bosnian Memory Project delved into the decades long process of assimilation; and
  • Geoffrey Soyiantet, whose organization Vitendo4Africa is a home-away-from home for African immigrants in the Hazelwood area and beyond.

The conversation made clear what a crucial role a community of faith can play in making the immigrant or refugee experience successful, or more difficult. As Dr. Crosslin pointed out “a refugee’s first 10 years in a new community are really just about survival.” Imam Kacem added that survival for immigrants may mean becoming a “jack-of-all-trades” and driving cab, or tending the counter, while they do the hard work of opening doors to re-establish themselves in their chosen field, as doctors, veterinarians, programmers etc. Furthermore, communities of faith can often be instrumental in networking immigrants and refugees to find that first temporary job, and their eventual career. Dr. Moore described how a community of faith can define immigrants’ and refugees’ new lives “over here” as opposed to their old lives “over there.” Geoffrey Soyiantet added stories of his success in reaching immigrants and connecting them to services by contacting them through their communities of faith. read more

F4KIDZ Chess Club

F4KIDZ Chess Club

NEWS

Early this month more than ten immigrants kids participated in the chess tournament event at St. Louis University. These kids made a history to be the first chess players to represent the immigrant community.  This being their first tournament and first game away away from their usual practice location, many of them were at first full of tension and anxiety.
This event gave them an opportunity to gauge their chess skills and also learn from others. Seven year old Abigail Sankale was paired to play against 72 year old. WATCH VIDEO read more