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“A language barrier is no match for the power of human connection.”

In January of 2022 we met a family of seven — five children plus a mom and a dad — who arrived in our country from Afghanistan after the US troops withdrew and the Taliban conflict intensified. They had to leave quickly and they arrived in our country with little more than the clothes on their backs. They got adopted by a local church that Festa partners closely with — a team of 15 people who wrapped their arms around this family. They started with setting up a home. It’s extremely difficult to find affordable housing for families of any size, let alone a large family of seven, but finally the team secured a three bedroom townhouse and they went after furnishing it. No one in the family spoke English because their plan had never been to come to the United States. They were like deer in the headlights as they stepped into the airport shuttle to meet their new English-speaking friends. However, a language barrier is no match for the power of human connection. In no time, the family and the volunteers fell in love with each other and became family.

The first thing the church group did was to enroll this family in Festa’s 3-Generation Family ESL program. The mom and dad began attending ESL classes and all 5 children got the education support they needed, from preschool to homework help. From there, things began to fall into place. Dad was able to get a full time job, to which volunteers drove him daily at 5:30 a.m. before driving the children to school. The children got settled in school and quickly soaked up their new language there and at Festa’s 3-Generation Family ESL program. A year later Dad earned his driver’s license, offering his family freedom. Mom’s improved English has allowed her to become an entrepreneur. Through partnership with Festa, she started selling her spectacular food at a local farmer’s market, and this has grown into a catering business for her. One of the church volunteers said, “Of all we did to wrap around this family, the BEST thing we did was bring them to Festa’s 3-Generation Family ESL program. Without this program, none of the help we gave would have mattered.”

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