New RMHS POWIR Club Making A Difference

Sara Haas ('22), Orbit Contributor

There is a new club at RMHS dedicated to helping refugees settle into the United States who just assisted their first family move to an apartment in Somerville.

According to United States law, a refugee is a person from outside the United States who demonstrates that they “were persecuted or feared persecution due to race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.” These individuals may be eligible for “asylum” in the United States.  Thousands of refugees have come over to the United States seeking refuge during times of crisis. 

By Septeber 11, 2021 President Joe Biden declared that all the American military troops fighting in Afghanistan would be withdrawn from Afghanistan and brought home. The Taliban, a political and militia group with very disiplined forces have since taken over the city of Kabul and heavily controled the area withs strict laws that increasingly diminish the rights of Afghans. As a result of this, many Afghan citizens have fled the country toescape the devastating conditions their country is under.

RMHS math teacher Mrs. Bedingfield is part of a church in her town that is involved with a group of town churches to help bring refugees safely to the US and settle them in. She says, “It’s a conglomerate of churches.The name of the guy who is in charge is Ron D’Adario” Inspired by the kind works of her church, she decided to try and start a club at RMHS, dedicated to helping refugees. Reaching out to her students and the administration to get the club approved, she successfully founded RMHS POWIR, a club dedicated to helping refugees. She states, “We just approved the club so you know we are now officially a club and we are not going to be at all involved in religion.” 

The first family of refugees moved in Monday, October 18.  “It’s a family of four, four adults,” said Mrs. Bedingfield.  “We found them an apartment in Somerville that the landlord is going to let them have for six months rent free, just a nice person, so after six months we’ll have to relocate them. We did try to find a place in Reading, but the rents are really high but this became open and it’s going to work better.” The weekend before Monday, club members were asked to help move donated furniture and household needs into the apartement for the family before they arrived. Many people were able to help out with the moving of items into the home.

On the Tuesday morning after the move, Mrs. Bedingfield sent an update to the club saying, “Our family has arrived: father, Ghulam; mother, Nafisa; and daughter, Zarlasht. Son, Kanishka, did not arrive for a very good and happy reason. In the final minutes before his departure to D.C. and then Boston, immigration was able to locate his wife. She was also being transferred to a U.S. resettlement area. She chose to relocate to N.J. because her parents were already there. As a result, we now have an Afghan family of three living in their apartment in Somerville. Thanks to a huge effort by many, many, hands, in three days the apartment went from empty to completely furnished down to toothbrushes. [Last night] the family was enjoying a meal at their dining room table. Avesta and her husband and baby (family members who already live in the Boston area) were also there to celebrate the reunion of their family. Every one of you should take a bow for contributing to make this act of kindness happen. There is more to do, but we have cleared one of the largest challenges.”

The club just began a few weeks ago, and their success is already huge. This seems to be the start of a wonderful act of kindness that will help many many people.