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Area church helps refugee children keep up with studies this summer
Happy Ishimuse (left) and Elizabete Fatuma make masks during the summer day camp.
PHOTOS BY PETER CIHELKA/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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BY AMY FLOWERS UMBLE
A group of middle school girls stand around the table, joking and working on summer camp scrapbooks.
Anai Yui, 13 and adorned with five plastic wristbands and a multicolored friendship bracelet, met-iculously glues a photo of her and a camp friend to black paper.
With a metallic marker, Anai writes the same message she wrote on her previous scrapbook page, "Camp Rocks." She draws a squiggly circle around the message.
She walks on fuschia-tipped toes and denim-clad long legs to a table to flip through more photos.
During nine weeks of summer camp, Anai has collected a fair share of friends, memories and photos.
Those are the cornerstones of what Anai calls her "new life," her almost two years in Fredericksburg. When she arrived Sept. 20, 2006 from Kenya, Anai left behind her father, grandmother and two best friends.
She rarely sees photos of her father, who returned to Sudan. Anai, her mother and two brothers came to America, and she's starting to forget details of her dad. But she remembers her favorite thing was simply, "Seeing his face every single day."
When Anai came here,
The Fredericksburg Ref-ugee Service Center, part of the Arlington Catholic Diocese refugee resettlement program, helped Anai's family find the apartment.
And the city schools taught her to read. Anai loves school and hopes to become a lawyer one day so she "can make a lot of money and help people in Africa."
Studying is crucial to that goal. So she was happy that the camp at her apartment complex focused on English for Speakers of Other Languages classes.
The camp, which ended last week, is sponsored
The children recite the camp's name, SOKS at the beginning of each two-hour session. The letters stand for Sema, Ota, Kua, Soma, which is Swahili for "speak, dream, grow, read."