Note the highlighting on items or tasks where volunteers are Needed!
Current as of June 20, 2022
Saturday, June 18 was Arts & Entertainment Day: First, the Rawans’ TV was finally connected and the kids plus a few cousins enjoyed some GBH Kids channel programming. Then at 4:00 pm Zahida walked the entire family down Harlow Street to take in a bit of Arlington Porchfest, one of the best musical community days of the year!
Joint NST Family Meeting-May 23, 2022: Arlington NST and Team WIRP NST leads (Alham/Alex and Bob/Betty) and the two Afghan families (the adults) participated in a joint meeting to talk about
- How the families are starting to envision the next 3, 6, 9 months
- Our relationships as NSTs and refugee families, very dependent now, but aiming to be self-sustaining
- How we communicate with each other about important matters and
- How decision-making happens
Since this meeting, WIRP NST has developed a slim list of interpreters to assist teams when necessary. Legal held an interpreted meeting with the Rawans, medical appointments always have interpreters, as do education conferences. Our discussion has given us a useful framework for how to listen to each other. We agreed that we would meet periodically in this format.
Calendar: We now have a WEEK color-block calendar that the Rawans, and committee leads as well, receive. Going forward we will share the WEEK with all NST volunteers, so you can see what’s happening at 72. To smooth out calendaring, Nelia suggests that whoever adds any new entries on the very busy Transportation tab should highlight them in lime green for speedy ID by her. She will then enter them on the Google calendar.
Clothing: The team delivered spring clothing to each child on May 7, and then bathing suits, including a culturally appropriate long-sleeved rash guard and shorts for Sapna, and flip flops this past week. Next up: fresh underwear for all.
Cultural Orientation: The Cultural Resources module volunteers received last week new forms part of the training expectations for all Winchester Interfaith Resettlement Partnership volunteers, especially those who interact with the Rawan family.
EATS & WIC: This team accepted the additional mission of assisting Ihsanullah with tricky WIC shopping (and using his WIC phone app) at the local Stop and Shop following EATS Market trips each Monday. Zahida has begun doing EATS shopping with two of the kids, a break for Ihsanullah who does the bulk of the grocery shopping for the family. Based on valuable feedback from the EATS team, a pilot tutorial in math for shopping will be launched soon.
Education - Pre-School: Very exciting! Sapna, based on a dental exam, is likely already five+ years old, and thus eligible to enroll in kindergarten in September 2022. Dr. B., the wonderful pediatric dentist for the family, documented her dental observations in a letter which has already moved from Thompson School to the office of the APS Superintendent. Fingers crossed that Sapna will be invited for her kindergarten screening soon!
The Preschool Committee has been working with the youngest three Rawans twice a week this winter and spring. Team members work with the children on: English language acquisition; pre-literacy skills (looking at books, finding pictures, telling stories, turning pages, learning a few letters); fine motor skills (holding crayons and pencils; using glue sticks and tape; forming shapes with different materials); noticing colors; singing songs; following directions; and other preschool-ready skills. We also take the children on local outings to the library for Story & Music Time.
A huge tub of donated duplos has provided fun and entertainment beyond iphone action videos. ALL the kids love building with duplos and running anything with wheels. Sapna received her first baby doll with a few outfits. She shares Baby with her brothers. ;-)
Sapna and Toheed will begin summer camp at Arlington Boys & Girls Club July 5-8, and July 25 – 29, 9:00 am -12:00 pm. They also have two camp weeks in August. This first exposure to leaving home, being with new teachers in a classroom, and being with peers is a big milestone and an important part of getting them school-ready for the fall. They are set to attend Fidelity House Preschool this fall, for two mornings a week. If Sapna goes to kindergarten at Thompson, only Toheed will be at Fidelity.
There is still much support needed; even without the language barrier, the three youngest children do not have the skills, knowledge, or experiences that will be typical for their classmates when they begin preschool. However, the children are clearly growing, learning, and progressing. They appear happy and healthy.
Education - K12: Zahida and Ihsanullah attended (interpreted) parent/teacher conferences for both Adil and Mansor in early June. At both conferences, the parents expressed appreciation and thanks for the work of the Thompson School staff and administration, who in turn consider both boys “delightful!” Adil (grade 3) and Mansor (grade 1) each participate in a grade level classroom, an ELL tutorial, and a math tutorial. Both are behind grade level which is normal for children with limited English and limited literacy in their home language. Adil’s class speech was bold and confident—be sure to listen at this link. Scroll down to the second row for his audio clip. The school will complete an evaluation requested by the family via Adil’s PCP re: accommodations/Section 504 for his mobility limitations in September. Mansor has improved greatly “since Day 1.” Parents and Thompson staff agreed that Adil will be retained in Grade 3 and Mansor will be placed in Grade 2 in September.
Both Adil and Mansor will attend Summer ELL classes, T/W/TH, 9:00 am - 12:00 pm, during July. They will also attend summer camp at Thompson for two weeks in August (when Toheed and Sapna will be at Arlington Boys’ & Girls’ Club.
Still Needed: 5 rides on Thursdays in July for Summer ELL, July 7, 14, 21, and 28. Sign up here.
Education - Adult Learning: Online ELL ended in mid-June. WIRP and Arlington NST are pursuing the possibility of joint ELL language and literacy classes with the Hasanzais this summer.
ISO: tutor for the new Shopping Math tutorial. Contact Betty, firstname.lastname@example.org if this interests you.
Employment: Ihsanullah has been gainfully employed part-time, on an evening shift (3:00 - 8:00 pm) on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at the Upper Crust Pizzeria on Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge near Porter Square. Ihsanullah is responsible for his own transportation and appears to be enjoying this exposure to an English-speaking environment where he can earn a little money, contribute to the household, and learn more about American customs.
Finance: Welcome to three new volunteers who recently joined the Finance team to relieve Bob of the heavy load he has been carrying. Mary Ann O’Callaghan will monitor weekly household accounts of earned income and benefits; Alan Field will submit expense reimbursements to Ascentria and pay utilities and other fixed expenses; and Robie White will create monthly financial reports of donations and expenses and prepare audit documentation.
Healthcare: Adil had orthopedic and neurology appointments for mild weakness in the left arm and more pronounced weakness in the left leg. He is being fitted with a brace, and will need PT 1-2 times a week plus home exercises daily. He has a brain MRI coming up. There is also talk about neuropsych testing and the possibility of surgery in the future.
This is a lot for one little boy but he’s a trooper! Thanks to everyone who has volunteered to drive to these many recent and future appointments!
Legal: After a long wait, the Ascentria legal team finally reached out to the Rawans, and we've been helping the family gather information and documents so they can obtain permanent legal immigration status as soon as possible. Bob and Lindsay met with the Rawans along with an interpreter and a paralegal at Ascentria (via video call) to coordinate this. There are multiple potential avenues leading to "green cards" for the family, and it may take years to complete the whole process. Nevertheless, great progress is underway, and all indications so far are that the Rawans are on their way to lawful permanent residency here in the US.
Tech: Now the Rawans have a DVD player.
In Search Of: Sesame Street (or similar) DVDs to help with pre-school readiness and English language learning for all. If you have any DVDs to offer, please contact Linda email@example.com. Thank you in advance.
Transportation: The Tab on the WIRP Dashboard continues to reflect a lot of activity – many medical appointments needing many drivers. Going forward, the family will be encouraged to use public transportation to get to routine CHA appointments in Porter Square.
Needed: Drivers for various appointments. Providing rides to/from medical appointments provides a great opportunity to meet the family and help in a big way. Please check the Transportation Tab on the WIRP Dashboard and sign up here. Rides in YELLOW or LIME GREEN need drivers. Thank you!
Miscellaneous: Ihsanullah did a training bike ride from Harlow Street to Upper Crust. The option of commuting to work by bike offers good exercise, less time waiting for the bus, and monetary savings. He will also receive bike lights from BikesNotBombs so that night riding is safe.
Needed: A few volunteers to step up to plan an outing/fireworks to help the Rawans celebrate their first July 4 in the U.S. Contact Bob at firstname.lastname@example.org if this is you!
Needed: A few individuals to plan outings for LOCAL SUMMER FUN for the family. If you are interested please contact Bob at email@example.com.
Thank you, everyone, for taking on aspects of this very intense and sometimes difficult but always rewarding work. A special thanks to our co-leads, Betty Stone and Bob Davidson!