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Update on Helping our Afghan Refugee Family

Updated: Feb 16, 2022

Today, I delivered the working sewing machine, donated by our church, to the Afghan family. The mother, a seamstress, will test it out. I stopped by the City Sewing Room, a non-profit community support group on Arsenal, and spoke with the staff and took pictures. Donated sewing materials are sold there at reduced prices. I showed the pictures to the family and offered to take them there. No plans yet.

Our group has decided that we need to review some complicated questions with the family--how to get a driver's license, how to use a WIC card, how to set a doctor appointment, and to learn how their daughter was doing in school. I explained that we had found an Afghan translator that could translate during a Zoom meeting on Monday. After the meeting, at 3 PM, we will go to the DMV to try to finish his vision test. He had failed last week because of communication problems.

While there, the father got out the donated Chromebook, and said that he could not log on. The problem—capital letter, not lower case—in his password. I explained our English letters. He understood. We drank tea, and checked on the washer and dryer (donated by a Crestwood resident) that Bill, Dan Herron and I installed last Sunday. Tea, with milk, sugar and salt, is a favorite Afghan drink, and was offered at each of our visits. The shy daughters often sit with us and play with our phones, or climb on us.

Bill Biedenstein and I returned Monday, bringing sewing materials that church members had donated. We started a Zoom meeting, with Dan and Kathy, Shirley Bild, Paul Litzsinger, and Bill Brinkhorst and the translator on another screen. After an hour of talking, we felt that we were slowly bringing the parents into the norms of our social structure. Not an easy task to explain how to shop for the best food prices, why the WIC card would pay for fresh tomatoes but not canned tomatoes, and why he must wait 60 days for a doctor's appointment.

After the Zoom meeting, Bill and I took the father to retake the visual recognition test again at a DMV office. Speaking to the tester, I began to "drill down" on the reason for our returning after the father's first failure, and the need for patience in understanding his questions and answers. Another unexpected kindness--the state patrol officer raised his hand to stop me, and said, "you had me at 'Afghan refugee'." The father passed the test. Tomorrow he will get a driving permit.


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