Beyond Words International expanding at home and abroad

By Casey Crow
Special to The PREVIEW
Beyond Words International (BWI), a locally based nonprofit providing humanitarian aid, psychosocial support and healing arts programming, is currently in the process of expanding our work with survivors of trauma at home and abroad. BWI is taking a three-pronged approach to serving survivors of trauma on the local, national and global level.
BWI seeks volunteers to grow existing and future programming. A meeting will be held Saturday, Feb. 22, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Timber Ridge clubhouse to discuss BWI projects and form committees. If you are interested in any aspect of the work described below, we welcome you to attend the meeting or contact BWI for more information.
Local impact
Rise Above Violence
collaboration
BWI is currently collaborating with Rise Above Violence to provide classes in art, movement, music and more to survivors of violence in Pagosa Springs and for the community at large to encourage positive expression, healing and connection.
Student ambassador program
The BWI Student Ambassador program aims to mentor and encourage young people who are interested in humanitarian or nonprofit work by involving them in all BWI activities, including advocacy, fundraising, nonprofit management and humanitarian projects.
National impact
Beyond Words is working to serve asylum seekers who are awaiting processing along the U.S.-Mexico border. Our Mexico projects are focused on 1. Humanitarian aid; 2. Legal aid; and 3. Education and healing arts programming. A BWI team will travel to Mexico in March to further develop existing and future projects.
Humanitarian aid
BWI is fundraising to purchase emergency supplies for asylum-seeker families, including warm clothing, medicine, diapers, baby formula and other desperately needed items.
Legal aid
BWI is working toward providing support to asylum seekers navigating the asylum and immigration process. Our goal is to work with immigration advocates, attorneys and translators to ensure that asylum seekers have access to important information such as application requirements, information on court dates and hearings, and legal or translation services in their area.
Education and healing arts
BWI is collaborating with a variety of organizations and individuals to support regular education and arts programming for asylum-seeker children who currently have no access to regular education or recreational programming. This includes supporting local education projects and teachers, as well as traveling to Mexico to provide healing art classes such as painting, collage, dance and music.
Global impact
Coalition of Support for
mental health
On a global level, BWI aims to provide free resources, tool kits and training opportunities in trauma-informed care and art-based therapy to humanitarian workers around the world. In addition, we are creating a “Coalition of Support,” or network of mental health professionals who will provide free counseling and training to individuals working on the front lines of humanitarian crises.
Project Karama
BWI plans to return to Greece in 2020 to continue our work with refugee children. There are currently 90,000 refugees in Greece, primarily from Syria and Afghanistan, who are in need of humanitarian aid and psychosocial support. Members of the BWI team will return to Greece to support refugees through arts programming, small-group art and traditional therapy, and other expressive workshops. In addition, we hope to provide training and support to long-term humanitarian workers in Greece.
We need you
In order to support our work, we are looking for volunteers to help with our projects at home and abroad. We need assistance with organizational development, fundraising, grant writing and advocacy. We also need artists, teachers, mental health professionals, Spanish-speakers and anyone willing to jump in and lend a hand. If you are interested in being involved, attend our meeting on Saturday, Feb. 22, from 4 to 6 p.m. at 31 Shooting Star Drive in Timber Ridge, or contact us at beyondwordsintl@gmail.com.

This story was posted on February 14, 2020.