International Rescue Committee (IRC)

Linking Women, Empowering Lives: Pearson and IRC Host Mother-Daughter Day

Facing terrifying odds, refugee mothers use courage and determination to drive their families forward from surviving to thriving as they make the United States their new home. Although the struggles experienced in their journeys are inconceivable to many, the powerful bond between mother and child is a reality for women across the globe.

In recognition of the strength this bond bears and the role women play in family self-sufficiency, on May 19 the IRC in Phoenix and Pearson Digital Learning partnered to create a day filled with fun and educational activities for refugee mothers and daughters. Over the past three years, Pearson Digital Learning has been an important partner to the IRC in Phoenix. Pearson has hosted a MaterniTEA event for expectant refugee mothers, coordinated a literacy night, and conducted several donation drives. They also outfitted IRC’s computer lab and worked with staff in determining appropriate software to help refugees learn English.

For the mother-daughter event, Pearson employees facilitated a workshop for refugee women and children aimed at addressing issues which might present barriers in their path to self-sufficiency. In celebration of mothers, Pearson employees were invited to have their own mothers or daughters volunteer with them. The mother-daughter volunteer teams of all ages provided informative, interactive sessions on topics ranging from healthy habits and hygiene, creating food safe families, to setting and attaining goals.

In addition to presenting the opportunity for refugee families to build their social and communication skills, “the hands-on activities provided a way for the children to practice their fine motor and gross motor skills,” commented staff participant, Shadie Tofigh, IRC Clinical Care Coordinator for the Early Childhood Medical Care Coordination program.

“The stations and materials prepared by Pearson volunteers empowered the refugee mothers with ideas and tools for simple ways to provide stimulation and play an active role in their child’s development,” remarked Tofigh.

The capstone of the day followed lunch with all attendees working together on ‘vision boards.’ This creative project involved participants envisioning and discussing what they hope to achieve and where they want their life to go. Once the vision was established, they flipped through magazines and old IRC annual reports and collaged their goals and the things that would help to attain those goals. The room was full of chatter and laughter as women from nearly a dozen different countries pieced together powerful combinations of images depicting delicious food, technology, families reuniting, ornate kitchens and shoes, education, healthcare and world travel.

 “It offered an opportunity for our refugee families to get away from some of the daily pressures and to enjoy bonding with their children and each other,” Tofigh noted. “Every face in the room had a smile.”

Although the content and materials offered were intended to build the capacities of refugee participants, the day was filled with rewarding and joyful moments for all involved. “It was really special to have an opportunity like this; an opportunity to interact with such a culturally diverse group of mothers and daughters, all of us speaking different languages.  The entire group was quick to learn what it is like to communicate without words, to share a universal understanding of what it is to be a woman and to enjoy the absolute pleasure of being in the company of friends (both new and old) and family...it was really something else and I look forward to the day we all meet again,” said Courtney Wells, Sales Staffing Coordinator with Pearson Digital Learning.

For more information on volunteering with the IRC in Phoenix, please contact Emily Taylor, Volunteer Coordinator at Emily.Taylor@Rescue.org.

Story: Emily Taylor, Volunteer Coordinator
Pictures: Nicky Walker, Development Manager