NOLB has many requests from the SIV [Special Immigrant Visa – the type of visa that brings our translators home] community ranging from rent assistance, employment help, need for automobiles …. and the list goes on. Unfortunately, for every request we get, we have to turn many others away due to limited financial resources.
Recently, NOLB learned that last year the children of our interpreters had arrived at their new schools without the requisite school supplies required by the County. This resulted in them being embarrassed and picked on by their peers. We can all appreciate how difficult it is to go to a new school, but when you are doing this in an entirely new country it is particularly scary for these kids. Being embarrassed on the first day makes it even more difficult.
In order to insure that not having the necessary school supplies would not be an issue this year, NOLB and two local Methodist Churches teamed up to raise the money to purchase the supplies.
On Saturday, 27 August, two days before school started the following Monday, NOLB and volunteers from the churches arrived in Woodbridge, VA at a complex where a large number of SIVs live. With us we had a pick-up truck and a mini-van filled with all the school supplies required for everyone from the kindergartner to the High School senior.
As the children lined up and awaited their turn to get their supplies their excitement was clearly visible. We estimate that we were able to serve over 80 Afghan children. We had enough supplies left over that we were able to supply roughly the same number of children at an SIV community in Maryland the next day.
Sometimes the work of NOLB is frustrating because the needs are so great and our resources are so limited, but it is all worthwhile when you see the faces of the kids who just received their back to school supplies and the sense of gratitude from the parents who couldn’t afford to do this for their children.
With all the hugs and smiles the were generated on Saturday and Sunday, the volunteers left the event seeing first-hand how NOLB is changing the lives of thousands of interpreters and their families that are trying to carve out a life in their new country.