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Bloomington educator volunteers time to teach Afghan children

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WISH) — A fourth grade teacher at Edgewood Intermediate School in Bloomington is is volunteering her time to get Afghan child refugees ready for school in America. Many of the children haven’t started learning English and some won’t recognize English alphabet.

Sara Jallal said when the refugees started arriving, she immediately wanted to do something to help. Her parents are from Afghanistan and the family moved to the United States just before Sept. 11, 2001. So she knows what’s it’s like to be a foreigner in a new country.

She first started volunteering at Camp Atterbury over Labor day weekend. She’s gone back every week since, first as a general volunteer. But she wanted to do more — she ended up collaborating with a sergeant on base to start giving the kids school lessons starting with the alphabet and common phrases.

She now has two classes, with one for kids ages 4-8. Many of the children, she said, come from small villages have never seen or heard the English language.

There is also a class for older kids who may have just started learning English.

Being able to fluently speak one of the common languages in Afghanistan makes her uniquely equipped to help. It’s a big deal as many children may face culture shock as they head to schools around the country.

“It makes me really happy knowing that they are here and that they are safe,” Jallal said. “And that they have the chance to go to school and go to college and become engineers and doctors and teachers and nurses and whatever they want to do if they try.”

She tells her students that she understands life is tough right now — especially living as refugees — but says their hard work will pay off.

She says that others have asked how to help, so she created an Amazon wish list — and multiple boxes have already started coming in.

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