I recently had the opportunity to visit with two Bhutanese women at their apartments in town. One of our Goodwill Interns, Melissa, is studying American Sign Language, so Iskashitaa was presented with an exciting opportunity to connect with these two women, both of whom are hearing-impaired. When Melissa and I arrived at the apartment complex, along with another young man from Burundi, we came across a woman working on a knitting project in the parking lot. We approached her and began asking her questions, but she pointed to her ears and shook her head. Then we knew that she was one of the two ladies we had hoped to visit that day. Her face lit up when Melissa began signing to her, and she eagerly accepted when we offered to give her a box of oranges and grapefruit. She then invited us into her apartment and began telling Melissa about her living situation here and how hard it is for her to get enough to eat. She kept signing the word “friend.” We told her we would be there to pick her up for our harvest on Friday, and she smiled as we drove away.
This encounter reminded me how important it can be just to spend time with someone. It’s unfathomable to me that just a few blocks from where I work every day, a woman is sitting in the parking lot alone, simply because she has trouble communicating with others in her community. Now, by harvesting with Iskashitaa she can begin to make more connections with people and explore the city of Tucson. I am struck again by how well our name fits this organization: we aim to “work cooperatively together” in all that we do. Simply by listening to this woman’s story we helped her feel safe and comfortable, and that someone cares. And now, by involving her in our work, we are able to help her feel that she can contribute to her community as well. This is what Iskashitaa is all about.
Iskashitaa Refugee Network