Blogs

“A closed mouth doesn’t get fed”

Keeping youth engaged through screens can be tough. But during a recent youth program webinar in which themes touched on being authentic, accountable and showing up for oneself — cameras were switched on and the chat box lit up. “The students were eager to join in—it was a real conversation, not just answering when called on,” said youth instructor, Seth…

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screenshot of volunteers in zoom video call practicing English with ReWA students

Refugees connect with “TalkTime”

It’s 5pm on Wednesday and faces start to appear on the computer screen. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased social isolation for almost everyone, so Refugee Women’s Alliance (ReWA) has moved ESL classes online. Since February 2021, a group of volunteers and ESL teachers have launched a new weekly online conversation circle called “Talk Time”. It gives refugee-students—many of whom are…

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Dr. Azmi Jaafar in Baghdad in front of statue of stone figure with four arms putting a column in place

Coming out of covid

In the past year, ReWA has helped over 200 immigrants and refugees in the Puget Sound access mental health counseling. Most suffer from depression, PTSD, or just have trouble adjusting to a new country.  All of these are exacerbated by the pandemic. Azmi Jafaar is the clinical supervisor of ReWA’s Behavioral Health program. He was trained in Iraq as a…

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"Why did the colonists fight the British?" in red ink above a painting of a battle scene from the Revolutionary War.

Citizenship boom

Have you ever wondered what an online Citizenship class looks like? It’s part history lesson, conversation practice and quiz show, where students are asked: “Who signed the Emancipation Proclamation?” “Who started the first free libraries?” “What was the Civil War fought over?”* Last year, ReWA’s citizenship classes moved online. In late 2020, thanks to a USCIS grant ReWA doubled their…

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Access to learning soars as ESL goes online

Last March, ReWA’s ESL Team was struggling: few of the immigrants and refugees who attended ESL classes had internet or computer access at home. Now, a year later, ReWA is offering five classes online serving over 70 students. How did we do it? Let’s go back to March 13, 2020, the day Seattle Schools closed… My name is Inga Muscio,…

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ReWA case manager helps a woman in headscarf fill out application forms

Day 1 keeps families housed

A trained chemist stocking shelves at Costco. An experienced accountant mopping floors. These women are only two of the many immigrants and refugees with professional backgrounds who come to the U.S. but get stuck in low-wage jobs. Without a chance to take courses to re-certify in their previous career fields, they struggle to make ends meet, and are one unexpected-bill…

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Counseling for COVID-19 anxiety

“Mariam”* came to the US a few years ago, fleeing war in East Africa. She learned English, got her driving license, and found a clerical job. But persistent traumatic memories impacted her daily life. She lost several members of her family in the conflict, including her parents who were killed when a bomb fell on their home one morning just…

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New opportunities in healthcare

One by one, students settled into ReWA’s Home Care Aide training classroom in SeaTac one rainy morning last month. They pulled out their study materials and reviewed the supply kit at their table: towels, model dentures, a plastic basin. Many of the immigrants and refugees who come to ReWA for job training have limited English and lack formal employment experience….

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ReWA ESL Level 1 teacher, Lisa, right with students and classroom volunteer.

Raising 6 kids and learning English

Right before the start of the pandemic, a Somali couple, Sara and Abdi, and their six children moved to Seattle. When Sara first arrived, she was able to read and write and speak a little English but had almost no computer literacy. Her husband could not read or write in Somali or English. It was clear that Sara wanted to…

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Supporting Afghan refugees

Dear friends, As we watched the dreadful news out of Afghanistan, I am having many conversations with our community members, some of whom came to the U.S. as refugees after previous conflicts. Indeed, ReWA was founded by Southeast Asian women who suffered in isolation after coming the US, and vowed that future refugees to the Puget Sound would have a…

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