Max and Abdul were paired up as part of IRIS’ Cultural Companions program. They’ve bonded over coffee, walking around New Haven, and knowing multiple languages.
“I don’t always understand English but Max speaks Turkish and some Dari, so I don’t need an interpreter!” Abdul says.
Abdul works for Amazon, but aspires to be a plumber, his former profession in Afghanistan. Once he gets better at speaking English, he’ll apply for his plumbing license.
Abdul arrived in 2021, just days before the Taliban takeover.
“Abdul has been full of stories. I’ve learned what the life of a refugee is like, particularly an Afghan refugee, which is a world I didn’t know too much about. He’s opened my eyes.” Max says.
Max and Abdul get together once a week. Next up, they’re planning on visiting the beach or hiking up East Rock Park.
IRIS’ Cultural Companion program pairs volunteers with immigrants like Max and Abdul to build friendships and exchange cultural traditions.
“We deal with the problem of isolation because a lot of immigrants coming to this country are lonely,” says Mbeki Yunana, IRIS’ Cultural Companions Coordinator. “We try to create this platform where people can meet and become friends, and work towards a better life of self-sufficiency for refugees.”
The Cultural Companions program runs on the backs of our wonderful volunteers. If interested in becoming a Cultural Companion, please sign up here.