Solace for the Children recently welcomed 19 children from Afghanistan who will stay with host families in the Lake Norman area for six weeks.The nonprofit organization brings children over every summer. It aims to build peace on a foundation of health by providing much-needed medical and dental treatments as well as team building and social events.Susan and Larry Gibbs of Huntersville decided to sign on as Solace host parents after hearing Sandy Tabor-Gray, Solace Lake Norman Branch coordinator, speak about the program at Bethel Presbyterian Church in Cornelius. “I always wanted to do it, and I prayed about it,” said Gibbs. “But I wasn’t sure we could be hosts at our age.”Gibbs, 66, was an instructor at UNC Charlotte for many years, teaching special education. She also teaches Bible school at Bethel Presbyterian. Last year she taught several of the Solace children, whom she loved.She and Larry, 70, are hosting two sisters this summer, ages 11 and 12. The girls will be treated for burns and undiagnosed pain while they are here. “We are so excited. We (prepared) for several weeks, and it’s just a joy,” said Gibbs. “I know it’s going to be difficult for the children, but we’re glad they have so many activities planned.”Zaman Rashid, 22, has been working for Solace as a translator since 2009. His journey started in 2007, when he was one of the first seven children to come to the United States through Solace. “I was very hopeless, because I could not get my health, and we lost all the family savings on my surgeries and travels,” said Rashid, who had two surgeries through Solace. A tumor was removed from his sinus, and his soft palate was re-covered, allowing him to speak, eat and drink normally.“As I got my health, I literally came back to life and regained hope,” said Rashid. “I then requested Solace to help me with my education, as I want to be a person who would help the children in the future.”Thanks to the life-saving surgeries through Solace, he is well on his way to doing just that. Rashid serves as a national board member in Kabul, as well as a peace ambassador and international advisor for Solace.He’s also close to finishing an associate’s degree with honors at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte and is seeking scholarships to go on to a university to study international business and political science.“My goal is to be the governor of my province (Farah, Afghanistan) first and then build home-based orphanages and schools for needy children to build peace, give love and spread hope,” said Rashid.Amazing life transformations like that are what keep Solace volunteers and host families going every year. They’re also what keeps Rashid coming back to help.“Anything I do that’s related to Solace means (the) world to me,” said Rashid. “I know our world needs a lot of work, and I feel very good by volunteering to Solace. It gives me peace, and I feel satisfied with myself.”
Monday, Jul. 01, 2013
Afghani children arrive at Lake Norman area for treatment
Jennifer Baxter is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Jennifer? Email her at email@example.com.
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