SCARSDALE, N.Y. - A Scarsdale realtor recently travelled across the globe to spread American culture and help encourage African refugees as they continue their goal of mastering the English language.
Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty agent Anne Moretti was among a contingency that recently travelled to Rwanda to volunteer as a teacher and deliver supplies to the Mahama Refugee Camp, where she worked with students in the Mahama English Club, a group dedicated to learning to read and write.
The Mahama Refugee Camp was created by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in 2015 in the southeastern corner of the country, where it provides shelter for more than 50,000 Burundian refugees. Moretti worked with the camp’s English Club, a group of 103 refugees that committed themselves to learning the English language.
Moretti has long been a student of African culture. She studied African politics at Georgetown and has since made numerous trips to the continent since her first visit in 1979. Five years ago, she became a supporter of the Akilah Institute, a Rwandan college that is exclusive to women.
According to Moretti, after visiting Akilah last year, she scheduled a visit to the Mahama Refugee Camp, because she wanted “to witness firsthand the refugee situation as the Burundian mass exodus was a tragedy unfolding.” She says it was then that she discovered the Mahama English Club.
“I was hooked,” she said. “The seriousness, dedication and sheer grit that these refugees showed in studying English, while at the same time living in the most unimaginably difficult conditions as refugees was something hard to imagine.
“They needed help, so I decided I should do something.”
During her trip, Moretti provided classroom resources for the group, and along with her friend Ruth Kohn and a Rwandan partner, they created an extensive English language program for the students that was an “incredibly exciting and rewarding experience.”
The group delivered solar hats that include a light for students to read in the dark, English workbooks, classroom textbooks, personalizeed notebooks and writing instruments. They also brought dictionary, stationary, books, magazines and inspirational posters.
“The continuous support and passion Anne has for the Mahama English Club and Burundian refugees is simply incredible,” Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s manager Brad Kimmelman noted. “Her selfishness and devotion to the cause is an inspiration to all.”