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VITAL VOICES: Shashi's Story
His journey to education and opportunity

"My name is Shashi. I'm from Bhutan but I was born in Nepal." Shashi's story is one of perseverance and hope, but it began in a refugee camp in Nepal. The camps provided basic needs, but the quality of supplies and services was lacking. While Shashi's family faced poor housing structures, ongoing medical needs, and other issues, Shashi was at least able to gain a good education in the camp.

The school in the camp was strict. Students had to carry their own carpets, were expected keep themselves neat and clean including their fingernails, and faced physical punishment for coming to school without their homework. Punishment included things like kneeling for extended times or holding their earlobes for a length of time. Shashi did his homework by candlelight in the evenings, gaining knowledge and skills that would be invaluable to his future. Through this education, Shashi was even able to learn some English, which was very helpful when his family was finally resettled in the United States.

Shashi's family came to the US when he was 14 years old, first resettling in Virginia and then eventually moving to Pittsburgh. But with their new life came new challenges. While Shashi liked going to school, he was worried that his limited English would cause people to laugh at him. Fortunately, besides a few people, most of his classmates were friendly once they got to know him. Grades were also a challenge. In Nepal, a score of 50 was passing, so no one told Shashi that in the US, a score of 78 wasn't that great. Even with the language and learning barriers, Shashi was able to graduate and eventually continue on to college. And his education in the US shaped his dreams for the future.

Shashi had done well in math and sciences throughout his education, so during his time in high school, he took an honors Anatomy & Physiology class. While he had always thought about being a doctor, this class helped him know for sure that he wanted to go into medicine. He decided to attend the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) for radiology. During his time in college, he started working at NAMS to help other refugees like him transition into life in America. Through that job, he was able to pay for college and help his community.

Now he is in his final year of study, finishing up his final classes and getting hands-on experience through clinical work at UPMC. Shashi's plan is to start out as an x-ray tech, where he can then look for scholarships and jobs that will help him advance his career. As his future in America unfolds, he hopes to gain the experience and networks that he needs in order to expand his opportunities and work towards his dream.

COMMUNITY GROUPS: Women's Sewing Group
Gaining skills and growing friendships

Since mid-September, CARR has been hosting a new weekly gather mainly serving our female Afghani and Kurdish populations, focused on teaching sewing skills. The group has been steadily growing in popularity and size: in October, CARR moved the group's location to a larger space to accommodate both the new members and the donations of sewing machines, fabric, and notions pouring in from across the city. 

Through participation, the women not only gain useful skills in sewing items like potholders, tote bags, and even pajama pants, but they are also finding weekly respite from the isolation that can be especially difficult for Middle Eastern wives and mothers. Many of them do not work, drive or speak English when they arrive, even though their husbands do. The sewing group has created a sense of community and friendship that transcends barriers of language and countries of origin.

Started by CARR staff Taylor Hennessee and Ariel McKeown and resident artist Molly Rice, the group became a reality when local Sharpsburg resident-turned-volunteer Karen Hart showed up at the office offering her services as a sewing teacher. "It was really good timing," says Molly Rice, who came to the project after it had begun to form. "Karen is an incredibly supportive teacher and deeply generous with her time and expertise. And she appeared at CARR's doorstep just when we had a growing population of Middle Eastern women that are very motivated to learn to sew." Hart devotes every Friday morning to the class of 7-10 women, teaching skills such as hand-stitching, machine sewing, and finishing. Outside of that time, she gathers and sorts fabric, notions, and sewing machine donations from Sharpsburg residents for use by the group. She even independently secured a small grant for materials.

As the group continues to develop, CARR will work with the participants to determine if they have interest in developing entrepreneurial skills to sell or trade their creations. But for now, the greatest outcome of the group is the connection and friendship growing up among the members. Like American sewing circles of the past, this group gives new American women a chance to talk, learn, and create with each other in a supportive environment.


-CARR is working together with the airport to create a more welcoming environment for refugees when they first arrive.
-Plans for our Refugee & Immigrant Health Fair are underway. Stay tuned for more info!



Nov. 28th : TODAY! Pittsburgh's Day of Giving! Please consider donating to NAMS through our donor site.

Stay tuned for more events! Email with questions or comments. 

Afghanistan: QABILI PALAU

Qabili Palau (also spelled Kabuli Palaw) is the national dish of Afghanistan. Consisting of rice, carrots, raisins, and almonds, this dish can be made with chicken, lamb, or beef. This is one of the most popular dishes in Afghanistan, and in traditional culture, it is expected for Afghan women to know how to make this. Varieties of this pilaf dish contain a number of other toppings and add-ins, but the traditional recipe can be found here. You can also watch a video on how Qabili is made here
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Copyright © 2017 Northern Area Multi-Service Center, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
Northern Area Multi-Service Center
Attn: Community Assistance & Refugee Resettlement
209 13th St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15215

412-781-1175 x2248
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CARR · 209 13th Street · Pittsburgh, PA 15215 · USA

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