Written by Janet Foster, PCM Outreach Committee
Refugee Assistance Morris Partners (RAMP) is a local organization composed of volunteers committed to helping refugees adapt to this country. Refugees – mostly families – are carefully screened by the US State Department and the International Rescue Committee before being assigned to local groups like RAMP who make them welcome, find housing, and assist in many ways to make transition to life in the United States as smooth as possible.
Members of our congregation have joined with others in the area to help the Mohammadi family, consisting of a father, Aziz (age 70); a mother, Bakht Awar (younger than her husband, but a lady does not reveal her age!); and their teen-aged son, Omid. They live in a multi-family house in Boonton, found for them by RAMP volunteers. Omid is enrolled in high school, which he is enjoying very much. They do not own a car, nor do they have drivers’ licenses, so they rely on RAMP volunteers for all their transportation – to the grocery store, to doctor’s appointments, and for other errands and meetings. The family also has two adult daughters already living in the US – one daughter lives in Union, NJ and her proximity to her parents is a huge help, as she is fluent in English and they are not.
There are a few volunteers from PCM who, along with others in the community, are serving as drivers to help them run errands and get to appointments. Sign-ups are done on-line so volunteers can coordinate their time commitment within their own schedules. With the help of apps like Google or Microsoft Translator on your phone, you can communicate, and even have fun. More volunteers mean sharing the load – hopefully we can get to the point where the drivers only have to do one trip a month. Please contact the Outreach Committee if you could add your name to the list and commit to being a driver! Tom Tignor is our RAMP coordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org
A visit with the Mohammadis inevitably concludes with their graciously serving cardamom tea in their lovely living room. (Their beautiful furniture was a well-timed gift from someone doing some serious downsizing before moving to Florida). They are a wonderful, friendly group of people who would like to meet you!
Volunteers post their experiences to a group e-mail, offering tips to others so we all can learn from each other. Here are some comments from recent volunteers:
From Paul Pazniokas, Mohammadi Family Coordinator for RAMP
“The ESL (English as a Second Language) team, headed up by Toni Frame, is visiting the apartment every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday – two ESL’ers at a time. They’re enjoying bringing the English language to Aziz and Bakht Awar. And every time I visit the apartment, I smile when I see all the learning material taped to the breakfront and hear Bakht Awar and Aziz greet me in English.”
From Marnie Kaller, to Paul Pazniokas
“It is amazing what a team of volunteers can do and your leadership is truly terrific! I, for one, am having a joyful time getting to know Aziz and Bakht Awar. I am certain that others are also.”
From Nancy Reeves, ESL Team
“I worked with Aziz today. … We worked on money, showing him the 20, 10, 5, and 1 dollar bills. I also showed him the quarter, dime, nickel, and penny and their worth. I was impressed that he knew the days of the week and months of the year. Progress!”
From Joanna George, Driving Team
“Janet Foster and I took Bakht Awar to Aldi’s in the shopping area on the corner of Franklin Road and Route 46 in Rockaway … at checkout Bakht Awar was selecting CASH payment instead of the other option. When we selected the other option and the pin was typed in, the balance on the SNAP card was applied.”
Such small steps on a very long road but this is so important for the Mohammadis and for the healing of our world. Please join us!
Contact the Outreach Committee through Tom Tignor: email@example.com.