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Afghan refugees finding language solace at Youth Muslim Center

Murfreesboro Muslim Youth
Posted at 4:44 PM, Aug 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-17 17:11:35-04

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WTVF)  — A Murfreesboro youth center will begin offering English language classes to immigrants and refugees.

Abdou Kattih said he started Murfreesboro Muslim Youth in a garage because he wanted his kids to have a sense of belonging in their community.

"It started as a direct result of the Chapel Hill murder in North Carolina, where students were killed by the neighbor, and this started as a way to respond," Kattih said. "To show kids can still be in the community, can still be how they are— be proud."

After several years, they now have a brick-and-mortar location, which used to be a bank. Some of the English language lessons will be taught in an old vault.

"Plus, getting jobs is crucial, passing the driver’s license test. Tennessee does not have any translation services for people who speak Arabic for example," Kattih said. "Or Pashto. And not knowing English is a hurdle to them driving,"

Abdou said he knows several people here on special visas following the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

In a lot of cases, children pick up English quickly.

"Sometimes for me as a parent, I want to talk to the teacher without my child in the room,” Kattih said.

They already have nearly 20 people signed up, and they plan on offering four classes a week.

He believes it will continue to grow.

"The need to learn English is going to be there, we’re an immigrant community, we’re always getting new people coming into the country, and there’s always a need for language learning," Kattih said.

The nonprofit providing the material is Read to Succeed. Families can sign up through them here. They hope to start classes in a couple weeks.