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(Photo from Flickr by NYC Marines)
(Photo from Flickr by NYC Marines)

Imagine a thirteen year old boy trying to stay awake after walking more than three days in the desert. He’s so desperate for water that he drinks from a puddle where a dead body has fallen. 

Now imagine that seven years later that boy can’t get a legal job, go to college or visit his family, all because he’s an undocumented immigrant. 

That’s the story of Andres Rocete, and hundreds of thousands of children that are brought to the United States in hopes of a better future.

But finally, these youth see a light at the end of the tunnel, thanks to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which offers them a chance to come out of the shadows to study and work legally in the US.

I talked to three friends who have applied for the program to find out how it’s working for undocumented youth and get tips for other young immigrants thinking of applying:

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Oliver Kotelnikov outside the Pike Place Market bakery that made piroshkies famous in Seattle. (Photo by Yvonne Rogell)
Oliver Kotelnikov outside the Pike Place Market bakery that made piroshkies famous in Seattle. (Photo by Yvonne Rogell)

Cheese.

Did your mouth just water? Yeah, mine too.

If anyone knows what cheese can do to people, it is Oliver Kotelnikov, owner of the Russian bakery Piroshky Piroshky in the Pike Place Market.

Apparently, cheese can make pastries fly off the shelves.

Cheese didn’t start it all, though.

Kotelnikov’s parents did, 20 years ago, on October 24th 1992.

”It was hectic. Everybody had their own idea of what was going to happen. It was immediately busy,” Kotelnikov recalls of the first day the bakery opened. “We didn’t know what to expect, but it’s a good sign when there’s just people.”

Frustrated with the outsourcing of American manufacturing jobs, Ryan Clark and Tim Andis founded Liberty Bottleworks. The company makes recycled aluminum bottles locally using mostly US machinery, materials and labor. (Photo by Alex Stonehill)
Frustrated with the outsourcing of American manufacturing jobs, Ryan Clark and Tim Andis founded Liberty Bottleworks. The company makes recycled aluminum bottles locally using mostly US machinery, materials and labor. (Photo by Alex Stonehill)

It was the middle of that dark week before the New Year. Christmas cookies were growing stale in tins on the counter and emails had begun to pile up again.

But the news of a plea for help from a forced labor camp in China cut through my holiday hangover.

The Oregonian reported that a Portland woman had found a note shoved into a Halloween decoration she bought at Kmart. The note, written partially in English, claims to describe conditions in a Chinese government labor camp where the Styrofoam “Totally Ghoul Graveyard Kit” was made.

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An ariel view of the new Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) in South Lake Union. (Photo courtesy MOHAI)
An ariel view of the new Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) in South Lake Union. (Photo courtesy MOHAI)

When I woke up New Years Day, I immediately regretted my plans to spend the day in a museum.

It was one of those uncharacteristically sunny winter days in Seattle. The kind where Seattleites crawl out of hibernation and the population of the city suddenly seems to double.

The sun glittered across Lake Union as I walked across the beautiful park that the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) now calls home. The museum moved from its original location in Montlake and, after a $60 million renovation, it’s more conveniently located and has space for its over 4 million historical artifacts.

But most importantly, with the move MOHAI has taken the opportunity to completely re-imagine the way Seattle’s story is told.

One by One, a local NGO founded by Heidi Breeze-Harris (right) to fight fistula, is one of a dozen small local organizations being honored today. (Photo courtesy SIF)

“There is something unique about Seattle,” says Michele Frix, Program Officer with the Seattle International Foundation (SIF).

“There’s a special quality here: that giving nature and that great interest in global causes.”

Want proof? Look no further than the 250 women and men filling the Four Seasons Hotel ballroom in downtown Seattle this morning.

They are here for SIF’s third annual Women in the World breakfast, honoring the work being done by local organizations for women around the world.

The breakfast has become SIF’s signature event. This year’s speakers include President of Oxfam America Raymond Offenheiser, Zimbabwean activist Glanis Changachirere, and Guatemala’s first female Attorney General, Dr. Claudia Paz y Paz Bailey, (and the Globalist’s own Sarah Stuteville).

And the highlight is the announcement of seventeen grants worth a combined total of more than $200,000.

Today’s grantee organizations address issues like women’s health, literacy, finance, and leadership training. All are based in Washington; all operate on annual budgets of less than $2 million; and all work in developing countries.

So how do we do it? How does our region continue to lead the way in global aid and development? What’s the secret to these organizations’ success?