Yesterday I went with Jon to Riise, the Refugee Center in Albany, where Jon’s been taking picture’s of the kids and raising money for Art Kits and now for a trip to the Great Escape.
There’s about 90 kids who go to the afterschool program and one thing they all seem to love is getting their picture taken. They remind me of the kids I met in India, they don’t want the picture, they just want to have their pictures taken.
As I took pictures of Jon taking pictures, one of the school aides asked me if Jon was my hubby and what I was doing. I told her about my blog and Jon’s blog.
She told me how to say her name, breaking it down into two English words. “Shut” she said making a closing motion with her hand, and “Gut”. Pronounced Shutgut, I have no idea how it’s spelled, but I’ll find out next time I see her. After getting our names right, (she had less trouble with mine) she told me her story.
She and her husband and two sons came to America a year ago. They left Pakistan because as Christian’s it was dangerous for them to be there. She taught English for 20 years in Pakistan and now she’s looking for more work, something to fill her mornings, since her job at Riise is only a few hours in the afternoon. Her husband was the principal of a school in Pakistan, now he works at Walmart. One son is in college, the other son will be going to college next year.
I keep thinking of their lives. What they left behind, the good and the bad. How they’re happy to be here even though they now live in a three room apartment and spend their days working jobs they’re clearly over qualified for and making little money.
“Here, we’re free” she told me. Then invited me and Jon over for dinner sometime . “Pakistani food” she said, and we both smiled.
One thought on “Is That Your Hubby? Visiting Riise”
You and Jon are doing such important work, Maria. I’m looking forward to the summer when I can pitch in at this organization, as well.