Can you believe it? “Our” two Afghan refugees, H & M, have been living in their Malden apartment for one month! They are well situated and staying warm at night, unlike the first night there – something odd with the thermostat – Linda and Bruce got a text just before church the next morning asking for blankets. We dropped everything and went over there with blankets and were able to get the heat working. Later the landlord sent over an electrician, and all has been well ever since.
Over the last few weeks, H & M have been keeping busy getting to know their apartment and its appliances (electric stove vs gas, for example), and learning about Malden and its stores and resources, such as food pantries.
This week H & M began exploring job opportunities and learning to write a resume. A Metro North Cluster volunteer walked around Malden Center with M and helped her apply for entry-level jobs. Both are working with Jewish Vocational Services, which is a wonderful resource, both for English lessons and for help with job searching and career investigations. Soon they will visit Bunker Hill Community College to learn about a nursing program that helps foreign-trained nurses and meet a counselor who can guide them further. BHCC has a program that is designed to help immigrants with entry into a health care career.
The RIM case worker (a Winchester resident) has met several times with each woman to learn about their hopes and dreams. She also helped them create a personal budget. A volunteer from Temple Beth Shalom in Melrose walked them to a bank so they could open an account. He helped them understand the use of an ATM card and a checkbook. More financial education will be provided to ensure they can function well in our almost cashless society.
RIM Metro North Cluster met this week to review our budget and the financial resources we will need over the rest of the year. There are still some uncertainties concerning the exact amounts of government support that they are eligible for but that will be pinned down this month as their benefits are established. And of course, as they secure employment, this will change as they work toward full financial independence by next year. Stay tuned for an upcoming appeal that we will have to ensure we can underwrite their living expenses through this year.
It is so interesting working with these women and helping them get up to speed in how things work here in the States. For example, they are not novices when it comes to using a smart phone, but texting and using email in the way people do in the US do for business and personal communication is new to them. (In Afghanistan they used their phones to call and talk to people (who knew you can do that on a phone too?).