An Interview with Cheryl Al-Sasah founder of AHOPE

What do you do for AHOPE?

I am the Founder I currently run the Setup /Clean teams, set up Mentors for new  families, and help in social aspects of new families face in daily encounters.

What does AHOPE do?
Americans Helping Others ProspEr (AHOPE) is a volunteer based non-profit organization that was established to assist new Syrian and other refugees coming to Rhode Island with little to their name. We are dedicated to helping families integrate into American society.

How do you view libraries?

I view libraries as a resource many do not take advantage of today.

How does AHOPE as an organization view libraries?
Ahope views libraries as a needed resource in guiding our families to independence.

 

Do you tell Refugee families about libraries as a resource?
Yes, we do.

What do you tell them?

We bring our new arrivals to their local library show them how it works, help them get cards, help them understand how to utilize what the library offers, such as the english learning cds, videos books on tape, computer access in libraries,and books. We also show them how to utilize the free wifi hotspot for their homes. Once families have computers at home we set them up to use the Mango language learning site. We also encourage them and their children to utilize the programs at the library. Once we have trained families we let them help teach other new arrivals this helps them learn independence as well.

What experiences do you have with refugees and libraries?
I have personally helped families oneonone and help assist numerous families set up their cards, introduce them to the librarians, and asked for resources. Showing them the multiple libraries within their communities.

What do you and or AHOPE believe to be something that Syrian refugees need but are not getting that the library could provide to them?

Access to more english learning material for Arab speaking communities. Translated rules of the library in arabic on how to navigate the library and how to ask for help. Most libraries have bilingual workers but not in their language. More books and videos in their language and programs perhaps geared towards the arabic speaking patrons. Even have cultural  events to welcome the many cultures of the city, especially the newcomers.

Would you be interested in Partnering with the library to develop programming/services for refugees at the library?

Yes, this is a possibility.

The Library has expressed frustration over not having a staff member who speaks arabic, would there be anyone willing to volunteer to be a translator on behalf of the library?

This is a possibility as there is a vast arab community in RI. Getting volunteers sometimes proves tricky offering a part time position maybe the better route to encourage those who may want a small job.

Should Translation services be offered as a part of the volunteer work you do?

Yes, based on availability we can offer translation of documents or face to face services for translation. We have people within our organization who speak arabic, french and Urdu. Our refugee clients come from multiple speaking countries so we are fortunate to have these individuals volunteering for us.

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