New program helps Afghan women adjust to life in America
Afghan refugees continue to arrive in the Hudson Valley, more than a year after U.S. troops withdrew from the country.
Afghan women face many obstacles adjusting to their new American lives, but there's a new program helping to make that process a bit easier.
A group of Afghan refugee women is now learning how to open a bank account and get a job - things they couldn't do in their home country.
"In Afghanistan, women didn't have the opportunity to work, to learn, education, but in here everything is easy for women," says Mina Hiyati. "You can do everything."
Hiyati is one of 12 Afghan refugee women learning how to adjust to American life through a new program called the Afghan Women's Circle.
She moved to the U.S. five weeks ago, leaving behind a country where women's rights are being stripped away every day.
"Now everything has changed.. women are really under pressure, suffering really hardly," she says.
The goal of this program at the JCC Mid-Westchester in Scarsdale is to inform the women of the rights and resources they can access.
"They don't understand their right to their bodies like they need too, the right to an education and the right to work," says Holly Rosen Fink, president and co-founder of the Westchester Jewish Coalition for Immigration.
Rosen Fink helped create the five-week biweekly support group that is a partnership with Elena's Light and UJA-Federation of New York.
"We are showing them about those opportunities that exist behind the walls. We want them to get their driver's license. for example. But they need to be told that they can," she says.
Farzana Jamalzada is a translator for the group of women, many of whom do not speak English.
She fled Afghanistan last year to save her life and knows the challenges these women now face in a new country.
"It's always tough to be a stranger in a completely strange place. Everything is new, from the food, the culture, the way of interacting with people," she says.
She is helping her friend and former co-worker from Kabul, Mina, who hopes to complete college.
"Women should believe in themselves and know they are capable of anything in their life," says Jamalzada.
After the five-week support group program ends, the women will then enter into a mentorship program for seven months to help them achieve the goals they've set out.