Guest Post from Marisela Martinez
A group of University of Houston students formed Amaanah Refugee Services over 10 years ago and we at Amaanah are now celebrating our 10-year anniversary as a non-profit this year. We are a post-resettlement service who focus on single-mothers and children through two different programs.
The Transformed Program accepts about 30 single mothers who have settled in the U.S. within the last 6 months to 5 years through resettlement agencies. This post settlement program focuses on every mother’s needs individually by providing financial literacy, English courses, job seeking, child-care, etc. for a 10 month period. This program has influenced so many lives and many of the mothers we work with grow fond of Amaanah.
The Awesome Academy serves students who have arrived in the United States through the refugee resettlement process. Our program is welcomed by school districts in Houston and Austin, where we work with a variety of campuses both in and after-school programming. The intent of the program is to support children both socially and academically so that they can progress quickly, transition smoothly, and become confident community leaders. In the process, we also support teachers and staff by providing supplemental instruction and individualized student attention. I am the Director of this program and are now servicing 12 campuses in the Houston area and over 400 resettled refugees from all over the world. Most of the languages that are represented Arabic, Spanish, Swahili, and Burmese so one can argue that Houston is truly a diverse city. We are cherished in the campuses we service and have built a very sustainable reputation with administrators, teachers, and above all-students.
My primary focus in the Awesome Academy is providing the best programming and practices I can find that allows their English Language and social developmental skills to flourish so that they contribute positively back to their community in the future. As a child of immigrant parents, I understand these students become the representative/spokesperson for their parents once they start school and their English language proficiency increases.
For Awesome Academy, we try to look for sponsorships, volunteers, and a steady flow of contributions to provide a better service and quality programs for our new neighbors that caters to each campus since the demographics are different. We want to build a stronger literacy campaign for our kids but we also want to make sure that much of what they are being exposed too is also a representation of themselves and their culture. We have created a reading platform we hope we would be able to launch within the next few months that provides a mentor and a reading instructor to individual students and are hoping to get a steady stream of volunteers for that soon!
We are an organization that is constantly evolving and growing, but we do not waiver from our own mission statement that started it all– Our mission is to integrate resettled refugees into their new homes and communities.
Bio: Marisela Martinez is the youngest of seven daughters and proud to be a first-generation Mexican-American college graduate from her family. She places all the success and motivation she has on her loving parents and supportive sisters. Marisela is the program director for the Awesome Academy at Amaanah Refugee Services. She is also currently pursuing her doctorate in Curriculum & Instruction with an emphasis on Social Education at the University of Houston.
Site URL: www.refugeelink.com
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