Study Buddy Program By Kranthi Nandi

With the Holiday Season around the corner, all of us are going through similar thoughts and sentiments…the longing to be with family and friends. We are all thinking of that home cooked comfort food for Thanksgiving or finding ways to head home even with the Covid challenges, so that we can snuggle up in our favorite couch with the warmth of the fireplace at home.

Now think of refuges who are completely displaced and all they long for is a smile, a hug, some warmth and most importantly HOPE. As Malala Yousafzai says, “If you go anywhere, even paradise, you will miss your home”. And from her own personal experiences she believes that refugees remain resilient and thrive when given support and education.

In Summer 2019 Vibha Dallas Youth volunteers got introduced to PBDF (Pale Blue Dot Foundation), an organization focused on uplifting the Bhutanese families who have been inducted into United States via refugee program. Partnering with this organization, the youth volunteers conducted a fun summer camp for the children from these refugee families. More than 60 Youth volunteers took part in conducting over 12 camps, ranging from art to science, and had a great opportunity to know these children personally.

The partnership between Vibha and PBDF grew further to kick off the Study Buddy Program. The action center started the program with just 5 kids being paired with 10 youth volunteers. Seeing a great opportunity lying ahead, the Dallas action center decided to scale up the program in order to benefit more children. The youth volunteers also brought in some professional help to assess any possible challenges, which could be addressed if arose in order to design a customized curriculum as per the need of every child. The young volunteer cum mentors were oriented on some teaching methodologies, and each child (mentee) was assigned to two mentors. A cadence with zoom sessions was established and the team continued to fine tune the Program and the curriculum. These young mentors encountered numerous challenges but took them all head-on, e.g., once the laptops that the mentees were using for the program got stolen, so they had no means to connect to their mentors. With the amazing support from the rest of our Vibha community, where several volunteers donated laptops, the volunteer team was able to reinitiate the program.

The Dallas action center takes immense pride in their Vibha community and especially the 30 youth volunteers who have been mentoring 15 children with complete commitment and passion. They have collectively poured in more than 1200 volunteer hours in this program creating a great impact on this refugee community. The action center and the entire Vibha community congratulate these Youth Leaders.

One book, One pen, One Child, and One Teacher can change the world” – Malala Yousafzai.

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