By Pam Vallette, Program Manager at SON Ministries
My heart is full. Reflecting on my experience from last night at Family ESOL/Kids Club, brings tears to my eyes. We began a class about how to find, apply for and interview for a job. Our audience is adults from many countries who moved to the U.S. to start a better life. They attend our program to learn English. Through a partnership with Salvation Army, they are now learning how to find meaningful employment that will allow them to support their families.
During the class, I had the pleasure of speaking with 3 Muslim women. Their stories are remarkable. One woman is a pharmacist in Palestine. Because her license is not valid in the U.S., she is unable to work in her profession. She plans to take classes and obtain her license in the U.S. She told me, “I just want to contribute to society”. Another woman has a vocational diploma in early childhood education from her high school in Jordan. She is determined to work and is currently taking classes to obtain her GED. Her dream is to obtain an Associate’s degree in either nursing or early childhood education. The 3rd woman still has very young children at home. She has the same dream to gain education and work, but says, “it is not time yet. My children are still too young”.
There is so much more I could share. I told them I often felt lonely when I was home alone all day with my young children. They all smiled and agreed and we had a moment of mutual understanding. But, they face obstacles I never faced. They shared that their husbands are not necessarily supportive of them working and in their culture, they must have their husband’s permission. Getting permission to come to English class is a “baby step” towards achieving their dreams. On top of that they have to learn a new language and new customs about how to receive an education and navigate the job market. Through their English class and the Family ESOL/KIDS Club Program they have become each other’s support network, and the deep friendship they share is evident.
I am truly blessed to be serving these women through my work with SON Ministries. They are brave and determined. My heart is full.
At SON Ministries we see the DIVINE in each person, each has a PURPOSE and a VOICE.