This is George, outside his childhood home in Mclean. His mom Evelyn lived here for 65 years, until she died last year at age 96. George wanted to donate all the furniture to the Afghan refugee family of nine whose apartment KindWorks was setting up. “That’s what mom was all about,” George’s wife Regina chimed in, as George teared up sharing stories and showing me photos. “She was all about helping others.” Evelyn was active in the church, and she raised 22 foster babies from a few days old to a few years old. “She was a very giving, giving, giving, giving, giving, giving person,” Regina said. “She never met a stranger.”
The 3-bedroom apartment in Hyattsville was bursting with activity on Saturday morning – beds being assembled, pantry being stocked, clothes being sorted, towels being folded, paintings being hung, toiletries being lined up, backpacks being. More than 25 people from as young as 10, and arriving from as far away as London and NYC, were busy making a home with the same warmth and care as we would our own. At a time when the administration has reduced the number of refugees allowed in this country to an all time low, this is our resistance. Fight hate with kindness; battle misperception with warmth. Love trumps fear
Bare rooms, empty cabinets, pale walls — turn into a warm, welcoming home in less than two hours. A family’s Bagby (big awesome bear!) finds a new home. A young volunteer makes a drawing of a house and shares her minnie mouse, sitting on the dresser waiting to greet the new kids. A neighbor’s orchids adorn a corner table by the balcony. An artist makes a ‘marhaba’ (welcome) sign with crayons. One of my dad’s painting hangs above the sofa. Welcome HOME dear neighbors. It takes a village. I am so glad KindWorks is mine. ❤
After setting up the beautiful home, we went to visit an Afghani family, whose apartment we had set up last year and with whose extended family we’ve become good friends. They greeted us with homemade cake and sweet, milky Afghan chai. We sat on sheets and cushions on the floor and shared stories – of trips to Kabul, of our children, our families. The mom showed me the portable washing machine we had had delivered for them through Amazon, and the sewing machine a KindWorker had donated; she said she uses it to hem the clothes her older daughter has outgrown for her younger ones. I asked her if she needed anything. The one word you hear, over and over, is ‘shukr’ ‘shukr’ (thank you, thank you). Every time we speak on the phone, she tells me she prays for me; any time her family has an issue, the kids say ‘call Salma khala’. I can’t imagine a more beautiful blessing. I brought a piece of my dad’s pottery to share with the family. My dad was an engineer all his life, but he was an artist – a painter and a potter – by passion. Sadly he is no longer able to create his masterpieces. I want this precious family to pray for my dad too.
Our new neighbors from Afghanistan arrive today, we’re so excited! We hope they feel right at home. Waiting for them in the fridge is an Afghani meal, so their first taste of America feels familiar and nurturing. It was prepared this morning by a kind Afghani woman who arrived as a refugee about a year ago. She wanted to welcome her new neighbors with Kabuli pulao (rice with carrots and raisins), gulpi (cauliflower in tomato sauce), chicken korma, homemade naan, and salad.
The “Evelyn Rogers Memorial Apartment” is now complete.
Welcome home, dear neighbors.