This past school year one of our most dedicated students named Marie entered nursing school. She has been in our program for 3 years. She is 18 and she is from Afghanistan and is not only a refugee but also an orphan. As a baby she was adopted and raised by a loving and caring family. A family that would risk much to get her to safety.
Her family fled early in the war, and landed only 4 years ago in Sacramento desperate for jobs – finding none even to this day. She is on the track to becoming the bread winner of the family and is the first to attend a school of higher education. She is an example of the self-sufficiency we hope to instill alongside the truth that I have been honored to share with her.
Before Marie graduated 2 years ago Raquel was presented with an opportunity to share her faith and how it has impacted her future. Raquel shared with her how the disciplines of this world and the religious restraints that Raquel previously followed were less empowering than the freedom in the truth that Jesus teaches.
These are the moments that we hope for many more refugee children youth to experience alongside caring ministers and volunteers. Moments of transparency and truth because of the genuine time that was spent inside the classroom and outside the classroom.
Just last week Raquel noticed Marie’s social media had become less filtered than normal. She posted a photo of a medical wristband. Knowing her struggle with depression and anxiety Raquel reached out. She was in fact recovering from a very intense panic attack that resulted in a trip to the hospital. While Raquel communicated that this incident was recoverable Raquel knew that the only real fix was the freedom that had been shared before with her. Raquel sent her a some encouraging words
With the weight of the world on her shoulders she may be in the land of the free, but she still is overcoming her past while striving for a future that will release her family from a life of poverty. On top of that she is entering an arranged marriage that looks “insta-perfect”, but with her fiancé living in Afghanistan we can only imagine how that must make her feel.
This year we plan to bring on more students like Marie, students who will present us with complicated cultural obstacles, emotional turmoil and dreams of success. We hope to guide them with truth through their youth experience and give them hope that their life journey is not at its end because they have arrived in America and left extreme Islam behind. In fact we see this time for our youth as the first opportunity to find the hope that God has to offer.