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Volunteering at ACAA – A valuable and rewarding experience
Written by Zaynab Nasif – Former volunteer at ACAA
My name is Zaynab Nasif and I am a student from the United States who was fortunate enough to come to London for the summer and find the Afghanistan and Central Asian Association.
I specifically came to London to study how refugee organisations function and how they utilize their resources to help their respective beneficiaries. I found the ACAA and saw that they truly were involved and integrated into their community, even going above and beyond to make sure that their beneficiaries were receiving quality attention and care to meet their needs. During my time at the ACAA, I was given very writing-intensive tasks, such as researching grant proposals, and also creating a business plan for an upcoming social enterprise venture. This experience was extremely invaluable to me as a student who hopes to work in this field in the future and be involved with this kind of work. I also was fortunate enough to meet many of the beneficiaries and interact with them, and saw first-hand how valued the ACAA was in the community.
If I learned one thing this summer, it is that refugees and immigrants are resilient. I can give the example of the director of the ACAA, Dr. Nooralhaq Nasimi, who himself was a refugee from Afghanistan and founded the ACAA almost 15 years ago. Through the trials and tribulations that he went through to come to the UK, to set up the ACAA, and to continuously keep it functioning, he perseveres to help beneficiaries, and even gives students like me an opportunity to intern and gain hands-on experience with a charity. I can also give the numerous examples of the refugees I met during my time there, who are facing indescribable financial and social burdens that are out of their power. The ACAA does a fantastic job of trying to alleviate some of these burdens through their programs and workshops- many of which have been functioning for over a decade now. I can also share from my own family’s experience in the US that immigrating into a new country can be the most difficult thing in the world. Linguistic and cultural barriers are not easily broken down, and it can take years to feel even a fraction integrated. However, I see time and time again that refugees take on each day as best as they can amidst their troubles and make difficult sacrifices.
It is organisations like the ACAA that taught me how charities, non-profits, and non-governmental organisations can impact their lives, even through just weekly workshops or having an established presence in a community with an open door. I will truly miss the ACAA and the wonderful family I built there. I know it will continue to grow. do great things for its beneficiaries, and be resilient.