Michaela Sabbag’s and Tamara Jaffe’s recent Passport project addresses critical challenges faced by many refugees in Los Angeles. Their pamphlet, “Housing and Job Opportunities for Refugees in Los Angeles,” recognizes the difficulties in integrating with the local community due to language barriers, lack of accessible resources, and the high cost of living.
The Passports embarked upon their project under the tutelage of Fadia Thabet, 2017 International Woman of Courage from Yemen, who served as their mentor and an informed guide to the United States’ refugee crisis. About working with the two AWIU Passports, Fadia had this to say:
“Working with Michaela and Tamara has been a highlight of my heart. Both showed passion for this project from the start, actively participating in many meetings with me, eagerly learning about the challenges and exploring the best ways to serve the refugees in Los Angeles.”
The Passports’ goal was to create an easily digestible resource for refugees, specifically those from the Middle East, to navigate the Los Angeles community. This short, concise pamphlet includes resources for government-subsidized housing, refugee employment programs, and even links to online forums where fellow refugees can come together to help one another out.
With commitments to inclusivity and accessibility in mind, Michela expressed that she would like to make this resource “as accessible as possible in every way.” While translating the entire pamphlet would be challenging, the team hopes to include a prenote in Arabic, guiding readers to language assistance resources through website and QR codes.
Above all, Michaela and Tamara are committed to impacting as many refugees as possible, providing them with hope and practical support for their new lives in Los Angeles. In the online presentation to AWIU members, Michaela said, “Obviously, the pamphlet is not going to do anything if no one is there to take it and if nobody knows it exists.”
Since then, the two Passports have contacted local non-profits in hopes of getting their brochure onto websites. They found a partner in United Nations Association Pasadena (UNA), which, with a contribution from AWIU, will pay for the printing of 300 copies. In July, Michaela reported that the pamphlets will be distributed at local government buildings, public schools, churches, mosques, and health clinics. Miry’s List, a Pasadena non-profit serving refugees, will distribute 50 at an upcoming event.
“This is a significant step in building a more compassionate community, where every refugee can assimilate into their new surroundings, armed with the necessary information to thrive,” Fadia said.