The McWhorter family recently provided temporary housing in their Hull home for an Afghani family from a Texas refugee camp, where they had stayed since leaving Afghanistan.
“They were very happy to be here, although somewhat stressed out given their long journey” to the United States, Bruce McWhorter told The Hull Times.
This hosting opportunity came about through a gathering several weeks ago with local representatives of the Refugee and Immigrant Assistance Center. “[They] met with interested folks at the Hingham library to discuss their program and how people could become involved,” McWhorter explained.
The family – comprised of Yasin (thought to be in his mid-30s), his wife, Leluma, 25, and their 11-year-old, nephew, Taadeer – lived in the McWhorters’ in-law apartment, which offered them privacy with its bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen facilities as well as a separate entrance.
The couple has been married for 10 years, since Leluma was age 14. Taadeer’s mother is still living in Texas, but because Yasin and Leluma were not able to have children, they officially adopted him.
After staying with their Hull hosts for two weeks, the Afghani family headed to Brockton to live with a cousin, Qudrat, until they find permanent housing. Their cousin is a former interpreter for the U.S. military in Afghanistan. Yasin fought alongside the U.S. military, according to McWhorter.
“We had several conversations with Qudrat. He was the primary source of translation, as this family spoke no English,” McWhorter said. “They speak Pashto, which is a dialect primarily spoken in Afghanistan.”
Other ways the Afghani and McWhorter families communicated were through the “Translate Now” app and by looking at photographs of each other’s families.
While there was a language barrier, it was apparent that the Afghani family looked forward to, and enjoyed, joining the McWhorters for dinner. A popular Afghan dish is Aloo Anday, prepared with potatoes, tomatoes, and scrambled eggs. Leluma also made Naan, which is similar to pita bread, for every meal.
“We also went for walks in the neighborhood, and they met the infamous Wolfie [Hull resident and emergency response coordinator Craig Wolfe], who provided needed supplies,” McWhorter said. “We also took trips to the supermarket, which was quite an adventure as we tried to determine what their diet consisted of.”
The family was driven back and forth to English classes with a Hingham resident, who had a connection to a translator who spoke Pashto, and went shopping at Marshall’s and an adjacent shoe store.
One of the highlights of their stay was a visit to the New England Aquarium, “which, given how land-locked Afghanistan is, seemed quite interesting to them,” McWhorter noted.
The family also met other members of McWhorter’s family. “Leluma was particularly smitten with our 2-year-old grandson, Jack,” McWhorter said. “Overall, I think they felt relieved to be in a safe environment.”
Easier communication would have opened up even more opportunities, he believes. However, it became obvious to him that, despite the limitations, everything the families shared “was done in a spirit of love and caring.”
The McWhorter family plans to stay in touch with Yasin, Leluma, and Taadeer through Qudrat.