Sharing stories from KOSD
of refugees from Burma rebuilding their lives in San Diego
KOSD News & Notes
A publication of the Karen Organization of San Diego
Volume 2 ~ Issue 1, December 2013

Learn Karen
Have you eaten yet?: Na aw may wee lee ahh
Not yet: Ya aw may ta wee di ba

Thank you very much: Tablu doh ma (tablu pah do)

Recent Event & Program Highlights
Spotlight On: Fall Fundraising Festival
Upcoming Events & Programs
New Volunteers
Client Successes
Winter Schedule
Highlight: HOMESPUN
Youth have been learning the traditional craft of weaving from community elders through KOSD's pilot program called HOMESPUN. Sessions began with participants sitting in a circle, the facilitator held a bundle of yarn and explained why she wanted to learn more about weaving, then, while holding on to one end of the string of yarn, she passed it to another participant in the circle who then explained their reasoning for being involved. Around and around this went until everyone had shared their motivations. Answers varied from "getting better at weaving," "learning how to make detailed designs such as flowers," to "learning to weave to become a teacher," "share tradition and pass it on so it doesn't disappear," and "to promote our culture and make sure the new generation carries it on." Participants started with learning the basics; picking out thread and materials to build a loom, setting up the loom, setting up the thread, etc. Then they moved on to learning the actual process of weaving; starting with the big bamboo loom and then transferring to the more portable back-strap loom. HOMESPUN will continue as a weaving circle and hopes to create many items that can hopefully be available for purchase. Youth have voiced eagerness to sell goods for fundraising purposes and outreaching to potential retail shops who may sell their items for them. They are also researching online avenues to market and sell their creations. Stay tuned!
First Generation youth group participated in many meetings and events this season. Here is a highlight of their major accomplishments! Meetings centered around educational enhancement and included topics and workshops aimed at successfully passing the California High School Exit Exam, as well as preparing for college and careers after high school. Community service activities included participating in the planning and implementation of the Benefit Concert & Art Fair, Karen New Year Fundraising, Colina del Sol park clean-up, and KOSD Toy Drive outreach. Social enhancement activities have also been a focus this season such as activities aimed at generating healthy relationships and support networks. An Appreciation Party, honoring the youth's valuable contributions to KOSD's fundraising efforts and a Halloween Costume Party and Movie Night was arranged at our office and soccer games within the community and across states took place.

KOSD Youth are involved in a number of sports programs in City Heights; we encourage all participation that builds life skills, leadership, team work, relationship fostering, healthy lifestyles as well as providing positive outlets for youth who are in desperate need of such opportunities. Soccer is a definite favorite for KOSD youth, reminding them of their outlet back in the refugee camps many originated from. Since other refugee youth have a similar experience, it is a great avenue to build friendships with other youth who can relate to the difficulties of rebuilding their lives in a whole new environment. The soccer field provides an even playing field so to speak. Recognizing the diversity of the refugee populations in San Diego, California, the sports program also seeks to support students in transcending perceived racial, ethnic, religious, linguistic and geographic divides amongst one another. Soccer uses its universal language to provide a perfect platform upon which to build this international community. Youth, along with community leaders, plan sports tournaments, often in KOSD's backyard of Colina del Sol Park. Sometimes these tournaments are used to raise funds for youth programs, sometimes they are in celebration of cultural events, and sometimes they are just for fun and team building:)

KOSD staff are certified with Covered California™ to assist people through the Affordable Care Act changes to their health care. Case Managers can help people navigate the healthcare marketplace, learn the differences between plans, and assist through the signing up process. Enrollment has already begun, and individuals must be signed up prior to March in order to escape a fine for not having health coverage. According to Covered California™ "millions of Californians will be able to choose affordable, quality health insurance coverage offered through Covered California™ that will take effect January 2014. You will also be able to learn if you qualify for Medi-Cal. Covered California is a new, easy-to-use marketplace where you and your family may get financial assistance to make coverage more affordable and where you will be able to compare and choose health coverage that fits your needs and budget. By law, your coverage can't be dropped or denied even if you have a pre-existing medical condition or get sick." Indeed, many of KOSD client's who did not previously are now eligible for Medi-Cal or other subsidies. KOSD has made it a top priority to ensure these clients have assistance in finding the best possible coverage with this new system! In addition, the Health Task Force of the San Diego Refugee Forum meets at KOSD's office, allowing for our staff to stay as up to date as possible with these issues, especially in relating them to the particular needs of our clients. 
On Friday, November 8th, 2013, KOSD partnered to put on a Benefit Concert and Art Fair to raise funds for our First Generation Youth Group! The event was a huge success! Local musicians performed and local artists donated their works to be available for bidding in our silent auction. Youth were also able to perform traditional Karen songs, give speeches about their experiences, and display their works of art as well. A huge thank you to La Maestra for providing materials and space for youth to get creative for the event! Thank you Mosaic San Diego for being such a fantastic venue! And THANK YOU to all the performers and participants who gave their skills and talents to benefit the youth of KOSD, the event would not have been possible without you! Additionally, the event gave KOSD amazing exposure. The Chair of our Board, Andrew, and our Youth Programs Coordinator, April, appeared on KPBS to share about KOSD, their stories and spread awareness for the benefit concert! We are so thankful for this opportunity, if you didn't get a chance to view the interview yet, check it out here!
KOSD's After School Program has been in full swing this year. Helping youth with their school work is the program's first priority. And the primary objective was to create a structured and fun recreational environment for the youth to engage with themselves and one another.  Additionally, youth are encouraged to grow socially as well. Youth have received help in all levels of math, English, science, history, and foreign languages such as Spanish and French. Youth got to paint with arcylics and water paints! They learned origami, made snowflakes and other festive decorations, and played fun learning games aimed at reading comprehension and sight word recognition. Next year, youth will plant seeds to be transplanted in a nearby garden; the fruits of their labor will be brought back in for snacks and field trips will be taken to provide opportunities for youth to nurture their plants themselves. Youth are building a community together; discovering what they are thankful for in their lives, learning how to navigate their new environment, and creating goals they hope to help each other reach.


Community members and KOSD staff gathered before the sun even got up to prepare for the Fall Fundraising Festival. The soccer goals, acquired through pooled resources, were put together first. Having access to such a great park, directly behind the KOSD office, is a blessing for days like this. We simply packed up our cars and drove to the next closest parking lot to unload and begin setting up. Canopies, borrowed from valued partners, were set up and moved to their proper location, creating a curved line of crafts, food, and information. Paper flags held together with ribbon, previously made by KOSD youth, were strung between the canopies, creating a feeling of festivities. Signs, also made prior by the youth, were hanging from tables and canopy roofs, explaining the menu’s, the pricing, where funds go and who the day is benefiting. At 8am, the opening ceremony for the sports tournament took place, explaining the rules to be adhered to throughout the event. Around 9am, the jumper arrived, shortly after a line of eager kids formed, ready to begin jumping. By this time the sports tournament was already underway. Soccer, volleyball and caneball was all being held in the lower field of Colina del Sol park, all three taking place at once. Excited calls of encouragement could be heard throughout the grassy field. Bright blues, greens and purples were worn by participants, displaying their teams on their homemade or mutually designed uniforms. “KOSD, KOSD” was being chanted near the volleyball game. Things up the hill were taking off at the same time. Tickets were sold left and right for delicious bowls of Karen noodle soup, veggie and chicken kabobs, papaya salad, fruit salad, egg rolls, thai tea and more! The aroma was full of spices that made your mouth water. Traditionally woven fabrics were used to create handmade bags of all sorts; for your eyeglasses, for your cellphone, for an ipad, for a wallet, for a hand purse, for whatever goodies need to be carried! Some had pull strings, others had snaps, all were made by hand, with care. HomeSpun was also being debuted, and a demonstration took place, showing how the traditionally woven fabric is created using a bamboo loom and weaving patterns, depending on the design the weaver wishes to make. Crafting was also a part of the day’s fun. The Origami station had a mission to make a dent in an ongoing goal of making 1,000 paper cranes to fulfill the traditional Japanese legend; if 1,000 paper cranes are created and strung together with string, a wish will be granted by a crane! Paper masks of bears, cats, and other animals were also made by the youth and worn throughout the festival. Despite a couple injuries (handled with due diligence), the sports were played with fairness and good sportsmanship. Karen Little Stars won in the youth soccer tournament, Arizona won the adult soccer tournament for men, First Generation won the adult soccer tournament for women, the Baptist Church won the volleyball tournament, and K Stars won the caneball tournament! The youth played games in the afternoon, racing each other while hopping on one leg, as partnered wheelbarrows, to transfer rings through straws held in mouths, while balancing a ball on a fan, and other difficult but equally fun tasks! Youth took home prizes that included pencils, beach balls, colorful wind wheels, Japanese paper fans, frisbees, balloons and more! Over $2,500 was raised and spirits were raised as well by the success of the festival. Community members and staff stayed throughout the day, until the sun went down, from dawn until dusk. The commitment this community feels to each other and the passion they have to help one another, was very apparent to all those who were a witness to the event.

Upcoming Events:

KOSD TOY DRIVE 2013...One More Day to Participate...
Youth Pick Up Toys Monday December 23rd!

The San Diego Refugee Forum is a professional association of organizations and advocates serving all populations fleeing persecution and seeking refuge in San Diego. The Refugee Forum meets monthly to exchange information and advocate on issues of concern to the community of people displaced by war and violent conflict who are now in San Diego. Nao Kabashima, KOSD's Executive Director and one of our founding members, served as the chair for the Forum for a two year term. That term has successfully come to completion, and we'd like to take the time to congratulate her for all her hard work and on a job well done! Her team also deserves recognition! In addition, we'd like to wish the best of luck to the new officers!

We would like to welcome Kelsey and Elaine to our volunteer team! Both Kelsey and Elaine are volunteering as tutors for KOSD's After School Program. Elaine brings her Spanish fluency and origami skills to the table and Kelsey brings an English background and an abundance of positivity! They are both students at SDSU, hoping to work in the education field. The youth have truly enjoyed their contributions and KOSD as a whole is so thankful to have them on board!

Interested in volunteering? 
Please e-mail our Volunteer Coordinator
KOSD clients have been hard at work, learning English, finding jobs, furthering themselves educationally and socially, adjusting to a new society and way of life, and generally rebuilding their lives and communities. Although we are so proud of all our clients and all the strides they've taken, we would like to make special reference here:

Congrats to Chaz Htoo and Ka Paw Say for graduating with flying colors from the IRC's Connect 2 Work Job Readiness Program! Next they will start their paid internships!
Connect 2 Work is a job readiness program teaching participants key employment skills, helping them prepare resumes and practice for interviews. Clothes for interviews are also provided. Upon graduation, graduates have the opportunity to receive payment for a 6 month internship. 

A huge THANK YOU to dedicated employers who again and again have seen the value in hiring KOSD clients.  A shout out to those employers that everyone here at KOSD deems our valuable partners: Mountain Meadow Mushroom Farm, Hanaoka Restaurant, 99 Ranch Market, ESMI, AJM Packaging, Kings Inn, Seafood City, and Mellano & Company: Flower Farm.


January, February, March
  • Citizenship Class
    • 10am-12pm
  • After School Program
    • 1-4pm
  • First Generation Meeting
    •  3-4:30pm
  • Weaving Circle
    • 4:30-6pm


Monitors for PC Computers
Laptops & Desktops
Bus Passes
School Supplies
Kitchen Supplies
Maps (Burma, World)
Puzzles, Games
Tickets, Gift Cards
Gardening Supplies
Clothes (especially white shirts and black pants for work uniforms and interviews)
Sewing Supplies; Fabric, Needles, Thread, Buttons, Zippers
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Holiday Giving Season

If you would like to give a gift that will really make an impact this holiday season, consider donating to KOSD! All donations are completely tax-deductible! You can donate to our programs HERE!

All of us at KOSD wish you heartfelt joy this holiday season and a new year full of love, health and happiness!