Refugee Week 2021 – Fatima

It’s Refugee Week 2021 (14-20 June). To celebrate we’re sharing stories about the work we do and the difference we make. 

Fatima* was referred to our Love to Learn education team by her school, as they felt she was not achieving to her potential. Her family are from Afghanistan. Her father speaks some English but her mother doesn’t. The family only speak Dari at home. Fatima is a very motivated and diligent student but her vocabulary is very limited and she had low levels of reading and writing. She has very little time to herself, as she often has to look after her younger siblings. She had very little confidence in her academic abilities when we first met her.

We matched her with one of our volunteer learning mentors, AB, who is a very experienced ex-teacher and currently tutors full time. She has also taught English in India and in Palestine. AB found Fatima very shy to begin with but over time they have formed a close and trusting relationship. In a busy house, this is often the only time Fatima has to herself. We have helped the family to set boundaries so that Fatima can have her time without the younger children interrupting. They always start with a chat and go over how Fatima is feeling, which gives her the chance to talk about her anxieties.

Lockdown has been difficult for Fatima as her parents found it hard to help her engage with schoolwork. AB has been the main motivating force for her, encouraging her and working on homework together. As AB has so much teaching experience, she has lots of ways of making reading and writing fun. For example, she produces flashcards of the vocabulary Fatima has struggled with, plays games via zoom with them. At the end of the month, she posts them to Fatima to keep, decorate, stick up at home, and test herself. AB is also a mine of information on useful websites for tutors!

Fatima’s English language skills have greatly improved, according to comments by her class teacher, which her father shared with us.

AB has also made a great relationship with the family, and has met them twice for walks during lockdown.

*Note: Names have been changed to ensure anonymity. Photos are illustrative.

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