Dear Menaul Community,
We are reaching out today to introduce to you the newest family to join our Menaul School community.
Mr. Mohammad Nabi Noori and his wife, Zakia Noori, have just settled on Menaul School’s campus along with Mr. Noori’s brother, Hamid (15), daughter, Zainab (7), and son, Asghar (2).
The Noori family has happily agreed to let us share the information that follows.
Nabi Noori was a pilot for the Afghan Air Force who was forced to flee the country when Mazar-i-Sharif fell to the Taliban in August. Flying his plane to Uzbekistan, he surrendered to authorities there, and within a month had become effectively stateless. The U.S. government stepped in. After administering background investigations to ensure safety, the government then helped Zakia and the rest of the family to leave Kabul before it fell to the Taliban.
This was especially important as the Noori family is Hazara, a minority ethnic group within Afghanistan which follows the Shi’ite branch of Islam. Hazara minority people have been intensely persecuted by the Taliban. Reunited, they were brought to Holloman Air Force Base here in New Mexico, along with about five thousand other refugees from Afghanistan.
When we learned about these families, we reached out to Lutheran Family Services and offered the physical and human resources of the Menaul School community.
Late Tuesday evening after Thanksgiving, the Noori family joined the Menaul family. Menaul staff (and students) had worked through the Thanksgiving break to prepare a safe and comfortable home for them, including new appliances, new gas and electric lines, and a clean yard.
Special thanks to David Toledo, Nita Looks Twice, Bryan Brock, and Talen Lucero for their work. Lutheran Family Services provided basic furniture, and Menaul staff has been helping the Nooris to assess their needs and navigate the process of establishing their lives here in the United States.
This is an intensely complicated process, as the Nooris have Afghan passports, U.S. work permits, and little else. We will help them to establish their identities from the ground up. Nabi is already working on campus with the maintenance staff; he’s eager to start rebuilding a career. As an officer in the Afghan Air Force—trained at the Italian Air Force Academy in Naples—Nabi understands hard work and what it will take to get his family back on track. Zakia, Hamid, Zainab and Asghar do not speak English, and will need time to learn.
As a family they speak Dari, a dialect of the Persian/Iranian language. Once Hamid has learned enough English, he will be welcome to enroll at Menaul School, where he’ll fit right in with our other international students and World Smart American kids.
The challenges the family faces are enormous, but by pulling together as a community, we can give them the best start possible.
The Nooris have made a lot of headway in the short time they’ve been members of the Menaul School community. We have worked together with them to develop firm plans for every member to move forward and make the most of their opportunities here in the United States. We’ve also been amazed by the community response to the needs of the Nooris: pledges of assistance, material donations, gift cards, cash. Thank you to everyone who has reached out.
We’ve developed a comprehensive list of what we need for the Nooris. We’re putting out the request to the community. Any money given would go towards meeting these needs, but we can also accept specific material donations to meet these needs.
We need to pay tuition for three at CELAC. The CELAC program has generously offered a 10% discount, but they are independently funded and receive no budget from UNM itself. The cost will be just over $4,000 each for the spring semester, about $12,500 altogether, including textbooks and supplies.
In addition, laptop computers are necessary for Zakia, Halima, and Hamid to attend university and for Halima and Hamid to attend Menaul School.
A number of appliances are needed, including a washing machine, dryer, and microwave.
Coming to the United States with nothing but the clothes on their backs and what could fit into a suitcase, it’s important for both employment and education that the Nooris have access to professional clothing. We’d like to help them purchase suitable formal attire, something that would make the right impression for everything from a graduation to a job interview.
These are big asks, and big commitments. We probably won’t be able to meet all of them, at least in the short term.
We want to be clear, the Nooris have not specifically asked for any of these things; they’re intent on working and becoming self-sufficient. When Menaul School staff chose CELAC, for example, it’s because we know what it takes for students to be prepared for an English-language education in a short time. Our goal is to give them the right advice, the right connections, and the right start to skip months or years of confusion, missteps, and missed opportunities
Perhaps it was said best in the First Epistle of Peter:
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.First Epistle of Peter
If you see Nabi, Zakia, or any of the children on campus, please welcome them.
Let us welcome this opportunity to live out our mission to embrace people from every walk of life—Sea la Luz.
If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother; but thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need in that which he wanteth.Deuteronomy 15:7-8
With great hope in a new year ahead,
Lindsey Gilbert, President and Head of School and Chris Ferrara, Upper School Director