Article from Arcadia News
by Mallory Gleich
Jill Thomas and Nola Enge have been very busy.
Thomas had just returned from her seventh trip overseas delivering baby carriers and necessities to refugees in Greece.
Enge was running the preschool program at Shepherd of the Hills Church in Arcadia.
Both women were continuing their careers in education. But late last year, they decided it was time to do more.
Thomas and Enge, along with another friend from Shepherd of the Hills, decided to join the church in sponsoring and welcoming a refugee family to the Arcadia neighborhood. Since the family’s arrival, the ladies have helped them grow and blossom into their new lives.
Thomas works as the baby bed coordinator for Carry the Future, which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to caring for infants in Europe and the Middle East. Since its inception two years ago, 50,000 baby carriers and 600 baby beds have been donated to refugees.
Knowing the refugees who arrive in America need a great deal of support, Thomas decided to pair up with Enge, as well as Welcome to America and Refugee Focus, to bring another family to Phoenix.
The ladies were matched up with a family from Afghanistan that included a single mom and her four children. They had been living in Pakistan for five years and had survived the tragic accident of losing their father and husband.
“The only thing we knew about this family was their ages,” Thomas said. “It really put a face on the refugees I’ve worked with.”
Zakia, Razia, Abdul, Rohullah and Zabi Mohammadi arrived in Phoenix in March of 2017. They were able to move into an apartment in Arcadia, and with the help of Enge, Thomas and Shepherd of the Hills, have settled into their new lives.
Two of the children, Rohullah and Abdul, recently started working at the Safeway on 48th St. and Indian School.
“The boys are amazing and have worked up to their potential here at Safeway. Working through their transition was not troubling at all and they are so helpful,” said Manager Robin Clemens.
Rohullah and Abdul started work in September and although it’s been a big change, they really like their work.
“We do bagging and cart checks. The language barrier was hard, but once we got used to it, everything is good,” Abdul said.
One of the most important parts of acclimating the Mohammadis into the culture was education. Before arriving in America, Rohullah and Abdul hadn’t been to school in four years.
“The boys have a really strong work ethic and really wanted to start working when they arrived,” Thomas said.
With that in mind, the family entered into intense English language classes. Thomas and Enge knew it would be important for the boys to work in an environment where they would be speaking English.
Thomas and Enge also wanted the community to help get the family accustomed to their new lives. With the help of Shepherd of the Hills, the family was provided with necessities for their home, rides to work and school, as well as classes to continue their education. This is the third family that Shepherd of the Hills has sponsored in the past 20 years.
“We really want to continue to encourage others to do this. Anybody can do this and there is a great need,” Enge said.