Zoya has an amazing ability to roll with whatever opening her eyes brings her way. Yesterday, she was having a calm morning with mommy and daddy, closed her eyes
And when she opened them she was trapped in her car seat.
She closed them again and woke up in an apartment surrounded by Iranians speaking Farsi, a baby born the same day she was born, the aroma of Iranian food, and lots of people pinching her cheeks.
She stare at everyone and then played and then closed her eyes and… poof! Suddenly she is back in her car seat.
Close eyes. Try again.
Christmas cookie party! White faces, English, music, and lots of sparkling lights.
The smile of peace and joy that came over her face the next time she opened her eyes and found she was home was adorable.
When you look at life through her eyes, maybe it isn’t so amazing that two years ago, my husband was still texting me from a hostel in Istanbul.
But for Zoya the changes are always temporary and in the end, she always ends up back with mommy and daddy at home.
For refugee families, the changes are permanent. They went from a home in Iran, to fleeing and living as a refugee, in Turkey, to being resettled in Clarkston, Georgia, after years of waiting and interviews and background checks. For them, changes have been slow, but permanent; and the questions are many. How does the dad get his license when no one around him has a license to let him practice? We went to the doctor in Clarkston and they said everything was taken care of so why do we get a bill from a lab company in Texas. Is it a fraud? We signed up for gas and have paid our gas bill for three months, but now we are told we have been paying the old company for gas and owe three months to the new company. Now Georgia Power sends us a notice saying they forgot to charge us a Municipal Franchising Fee and they will have to send us a bill for backpayments that they should have been charing all along. I found a job that I can get to without a car, and as soon as I started working making $400 a week, our food stamps decreased so drastically we are having trouble buying food.
All this, and they have only been here since this fall.
If it makes your head spin, trying doing it all in another language. They are safe and have the hope of a better life in the future, but need real help. This father has real machinery and welding skills. If we can figure out the car and license situation, he knows he can get a better job. He’s looked. He is practice. Last night Shah gave him a drivers lesson. He needs more, but he did well. He has a 19 year old son with a license, but he is a good kid and knows the law is that his dad can only practice with someone over 21 so he won’t let his dad practice with him. The 19 year old has been hear a year with his aunt and uncle, who are the parents of the baby and a 2nd grader. He is in GED classes and enrolling in college, but works full time in a door factory to help the family. His 27 year old brother was put as a freshman in high school when he moved here a few months ago because of his English. He says he is lucky to go to a school with mostly Americans because he is learning English so fast.
The aunt and uncle have been here a few years. The uncle drives a taxi cab about 60 hours a week. The aunt stays home with her baby who is exactly the same age as Zoya and her 2nd grader, though sometimes she has to come stay in Clarkston with her sister, because her arthritis gets so bad she can’t hold her baby.
All this, and still they fed us a wonderful lunch and hung out, talked, and played and welcomed us into their home.
Clearly, this family needs help. They need their own circle of people to come around them and get them started. They are Baha’i and had to leave Iran for religious reasons.
And the crazy cool thing about them…
The baby was born four hours before Zoya and her mother was born four days before Shah.
I think we are linked with this family and I’m happy to have them in our lives.
Your daughter is beautiful. I am praying for God’s leading in my personal response to this situation. I will be praying for your important work as well.