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I Care: Refugee moms learn English

Zahra Habib, center, and Helai Zarif have a little fun while learning the words to “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” in an English language class led by volunteer Lisa Thompson, left, at the Arcade Library.
Zahra Habib, center, and Helai Zarif have a little fun while learning the words to “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” in an English language class led by volunteer Lisa Thompson, left, at the Arcade Library. lsterling@sacbee.com

Zahra Habib and Helai Zarif laugh together while learning the words to a popular American children’s exercise song, “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes,” as part of an English learning class led by volunteer teacher Lisa Thompson at the Arcade Library. The women are among a group of Sacramento-area refugees who recently fled Afghanistan and Iraq. The program, called “Mommy and Me,” was launched in January by the International Rescue Committee Sacramento, a humanitarian organization that resettles people fleeing persecution, war or disease throughout the world. The program provides child care so stay-at-home immigrant moms can learn “survival” English-language skills, such as how to spend money, communicate at the grocery store or take public transportation. The organization hopes to expand the weekly class and add field trips. “I want to just encourage them to keep speaking (English) and be rewarded for that,” said Thompson. “When they’re all laughing and having a good time, that’s my reward.”

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