Reflections of a ReEstablish Richmond Vounteer

Every week, ReEstablish Richmond has an army of volunteers who mentor families, make home visits, provide transportation to classes, and assist with childcare. Rachel Saffron is one of these volunteers. What follows are her thoughts on why she chooses to devote time to working with ReEstablish Richmond.

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I moved to Richmond a little over a year ago from East Tennessee. People always ask me why I made such a big move as an unmarried twenty four year old....“Did your job bring you here?”  “Oh, you must be a student.” The truth is I came here to work with refugees; to help them in any possible way that I can. I wanted to be their friend and to help them acclimate to life in America. 

I started volunteering with ReEstablish Richmond on a weekly basis in January 2017. On Thursday mornings I pick up Afghan ladies at their homes to take them to driving class. While they are in class I get to take care of their children. We play outside on the playground when the weather permits, and the adults are able to study the driver’s manual in a group setting, uninterrupted. After six weeks of classes, these clients visit the DMV to take the Learners Permit test. Some pass the test. Some do not. It’s always such a joyful time when a client passes their permit test. They are so happy! I get to celebrate with those who pass, but I am also able to comfort those who do not. 

Before I started working with ReEstablish, I would have thought, ‘No big deal...they can just take the test again.’ True, they can take it again, but it IS a big deal to them. I try to put myself in their shoes. How would I feel if I was placed in a strange land, with little ability to communicate, and things just aren’t going as planned? I would be expected to find a job, a place to live, a place to worship, and most likely learn how to drive. If one of these tasks doesn’t happen in a timely manner I would feel  incapable, unaccomplished, and so alone. 
I imagine our refugees feel this way some days. Luckily, they have ReEstablish Richmond to give them encouragement and a helping hand. 

Spending time with refugees has made me a little more selfless and sacrificial. I don’t know what my life would look like if I had stayed in Tennessee, but I’m so glad I moved to Richmond.