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A Gift for Singla


She moved to the U.S. at 61 years of age to start a new life with her family, after living in a refugee camp for 23 years. She cannot read or write in her native Nepali. You could say she’s been through her share of hardship. But it wasn’t over yet for Singla.

Not long after her arrival in the U.S., she was diagnosed with lung cancer. Since then she’s endured a whirlwind of chemo treatments, doctor appointments, hospital visits, mountains of paperwork, and the loss of her hair.

In spite of all this, Singla is not alone on her journey. She has her family, a precious gift. And she has more.

All those medical papers for her cancer treatment? Singla can do what perhaps she thought she’d never be able to do – she can sign her own name on those forms.

At 61 years of age, after being deprived of education for so long, Singla learned to write her name in English, not knowing that she’d need this skill in the very near future for the hardship that awaited her.

Singla also has a beautiful, hand-knit hat that she wears with pride to cover the loss of her hair.

These two seemingly small things are tokens of another gift that Singla received when she came to the U.S.

Two gifts, actually – education, and friendship.

Singla was matched with a volunteer ESL tutor through the English at Home Program with New American Pathways. Each week, tutors Carol Hamilton and Cheryl McIntosh came to Singla’s home to work with her and her daughter-in-law, Sukmati, on their English. In the months prior to Singla’s diagnosis, Carol helped Singla learn the English alphabet, how to introduce herself, and how to write her name.

And Carol and Cheryl became close friends of the family.

When Singla was diagnosed with cancer, she decided to stop studying English for the time being as she was worn out by the chemo treatments and travails of cancer.

But Carol didn’t stop visiting her friend.

Carol elected to stay connected with the family by switching to tutoring Singla’s daughter, Bhim, while Cheryl continued to study with Sukmati. Carol and Cheryl see Singla nearly every week when they come for tutoring, and Singla is nearly always wearing the hat that Cheryl knit for her. She also wears a broad smile when she sees her friends.

“The teachers are like family,” Singla said. And Carol and Cheryl feel the same way. Though the English at Home Program requires only a three-month commitment from its volunteers, Carol and Cheryl have far exceeded that time as they continue working with this family, and they’re still going strong.

Singla has been through her share of hardship. But now she has a home, an education, and a family that now includes her two American teachers.

An affiliate of Church World Service and Episcopal Migration Ministries
Church World Services Episcopal Migration Ministries
2300 Henderson Mill Rd., NE
Suite 100
Atlanta, GA 30345
404.299.6099
United Way Community Partner
In partnership with MARTA
AmeriCorps