Women for Afghan Women–Lessons in Courage

September 23rd, Monday

My first day at the Women for Afghan Women Organization started in earnest with a fragrant cup of Afghani style tea—lovely notes of cardamom, cinnamon and green tea leaves—as I was given a tour of the premises. “It surprised me the first time I came here that it’s inside a house,” said Ivana Ksevic who has been working at WAW as Development Assistant for a little over a year now. Couched in the heart of the suburbs in Fresh Meadows, Queens, the place is very much a house. But perhaps that is what lends it the warmth and welcome I felt immediately upon entering. The Afghan women seeking help and offering classes and the women at the organization all moving about inside creating a family like atmosphere. There were children as well, accompanying their mothers to English Language or basic tutoring or Yoga classes—one of many programs—offered at WAW. Around 11am I headed down to the basement to take notes on some of the daily sessions. Sana Sadres Fahani-Beck, one of the volunteer teachers, I had seen her face earlier on the newsletter thanking her for her selfless contributions, was teaching her class how to dial a phone and introduce oneself in English. At the other corner of the basement, a teacher was smiling as she taught her class synonyms. “Present and gift are different words with the same meaning” I heard her say. I went back upstairs afterwards–the thought of the courage of these women, so far away from home, on my mind. On the upper level as I stopped over in the kitchen I was offered a freshly brewed cup tea.