One year ago, in August 2021, the United States military withdrew from Afghanistan. Three months later, Literacy for Life began welcoming Afghani refugees into the program (seventeen so far). Among the first to enroll was Dr. Mujib Sayeed.
Mujib and his wife, Lida, were a physician and a judge in Afghanistan--but over night, their lives changed. "Imagine that," Mujib says. "For fifty years you make your life, your home, your family, your business. You stand up by yourself, and after fifty years, you lost all things. We didn't have one cent."
Volunteers from Williamsburg United Methodist Church helped the Sayeed family settle in Williamsburg. Church members who are also Literacy for Life tutors promptly referred Mujib and Lida to LFL. Mujib recalls "a lot of faces that smiled on us very kindly" during their enrollment appointment. Afterwards, he and Lida rushed home to share their excitement with their family. "We were shouting to our children, 'We found an English learning center!' We knew that it's very necessary if you live in America to learn English."
Now that Mujib has been enrolled with Literacy for Life for several months, his understanding of the program has changed. "It's not just a center for learning English language," he says. "Also they help you find your way in America. They show you about the culture, how to receive medical services, how to make a resume. They help you in all your life."
As a first step toward resuming his medical career in the United States, Mujib decided to attend an online pharmacy technician course through Heart to Heart Career Training Center. Literacy for Life provided him with a tutor, Jean Walker, who is herself a retired physician. While Mujib already understood pharmaceuticals, he needed to learn new English vocabulary, was unfamiliar with the American health system, and had never navigated an online course. "Dr. Jean worked so hard to help me," he remembers. "She is so kind. With her support I was successful with the course."
As Mujib prepares for the state pharmacy technician exam, he has also secured a volunteer position at Sentara Williamsburg Regional Health Center, where he looks forward to learning more about the American health system. Meanwhile, Jean continues to offer support as he prepares for the exam and lays the groundwork for his American career.
"We lost everything," says Mujib, "but I think yes, I can do this. My wife also, and my children. The future is very shiny to me. It's a lot of opportunities in the United States for us."