Lizzie was 13 when she first learned that women in Afghanistan weren’t allowed to go to school under Taliban rule. From that early age, she resolved to support Refugees, especially women. For awhile, she thought that would mean traveling abroad.

Lizzie continues, “Then Kabul fell, and a lot of people were suddenly Refugees and traveling here. I thought to myself ‘why not just stay here and help people coming here?’” 

She enrolled in a TESOL class and began volunteering as a Teacher’s Assistant with Refugee Family Literacy. This May, she was tapped to co-lead a small reading class for women whose children were in the Summer Youth Experience. 

“We have about 10-12 women who come each time,” Lizzie says, “It’s all women from Afghanistan except for one person, and most of them arrived in January. There’s a huge range of English and literacy skills.” 

Lizzie has had particularly fun working on phonics with the ladies. She says, “We have an alphabet chart where each letter has a picture next to it. The picture shows something whose name starts with that letter. The ladies have gotten so confident as we’ve been working together. As soon as I pull the chart out now, they immediately give the answers.” 

Their enthusiasm and dedication has left a deep impression on Lizzie. “Everyone in the class has been through trauma,” she says, “Given what they’ve been through, you might not expect them to have so much determination and energy. They are so resilient and vibrant.”

The vibrance shines particularly brightly during tea-time. Each session begins with a cup of tea and a time for the ladies to chat. “They laugh all the time,” Lizzie says, “They tease each other, make jokes, and it’s so fun to be a part of.” 

The fun has been an added gift for Lizzie, who believes that coming alongside New Americans is a responsibility. She believes that since she is in a position to welcome Refugees, she wants to do anything she can to help them. But Lizzie is clear that she does this not out of pity, but rather a belief that Refugees make our communities stronger.

“I think the first instinct for a lot of folks would be to feel sorry for these women or not expect much from them,” Lizzie muses, “But these are strong, intelligent women. They shouldn’t be underestimated at all.” 

Volunteers like Lizzie are building abundant life and flourishing communities. Click here to find out how you can volunteer. 

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