Hi! I am Naomi Pugh, a fourth year Fourth Grade teacher at Thomas Edison Elementary, a Title One school in Nashville, Tennessee. I know, I know... you're probably thinking, "Another teacher asking for classroom supplies?! I can go ahead and skip the rest of this story, I know how this ends." Well, if you thought that, you would be incorrect. I am actually writing on behalf of a family who currently has three children at my school. This is their story...
After a long, much needed winter break, we returned to school, ready to dive into the last half of the year. However, our school was missing three students in particular. As one of my fourth grade students did not return the second day back, I realized something was wrong. These kids never miss school. Later that day, the school secretary notified the classroom teachers that the son of this family was in the hospital for serious, but unknown reasons. Once school was out, I made the call to find out what was going on. Due to the Arabic language barrier, it was quite hard to communicate via phone, so I decided to make my way to Vanderbilt Children's Hospital. As I arrived, the family did not see me, but I saw them from afar. Upon approaching, my eyes found the seven year old boy lying in the bed, his mother, father, and two sisters by his bedside, waiting in hopeful anticipation. It was tough to choke back the tears that so desperately wanted to escape my eyes as I walked in. With a big smile on my face, I hugged everyone in the room, even though it was not their particular custom. Thankfully, a friend of a friend volunteered to translate over the phone for us, so the phone call was made and we began to communicate. I could not find out much at the time but knew it involved his kidneys and it was serious. Apparently he had been sick, taken to the doctor, and turned away as being "well." A short time later, the boy's skin and eyes began to develop a shocking yellow color. He was then rushed to the emergency room without anyone knowing what was going on. He stayed at the hospital for close to a week undergoing observation and tests before being sent home. During this stay, the family had to celebrate their Christmas holiday in the hospital. During the phone call, I repeatedly asked, "What do they need? What can I do to help? Can I bring food? Just say the words." The father refused time and time again. So, I settled for taking the girls to dinner and ice cream downstairs to get their minds off of the sadness, and at least get some decent food in their bellies.
As we sat around one of the small children's tables, I noticed a somewhat familiar face. A part of me said, "You know her, go say hello." But the other part said, "No, just leave it be, you don't even remember her name." Before I knew what I was even doing, I was face to face talking to this woman. I awkwardly said, "I am sure you don't remember me but I just know that I know you and felt compelled to come say hello." She smiled, nodded and then it clicked! We attended the same college together! She asked why I was there at the Children's Hospital and I briefly told her why then asked the same. Her newborn was undergoing heart surgery. Shocked, I didn't know much of what to say other than I hope it goes well and that I would pray for them. Confident, she said she had faith that it would all work out. We parted ways, I returned back to the girls and they finished their meals. When my acquaintance left, her and her husband hung back from the group and stopped by our table. She held her hand out, and placed something into mine. Looking her in the eyes, she said to me, "Tell them this is from God."
"Are you sure?" I asked.
"You have no idea the help we have received in our time of need, it has been incredible. Please, give this to them."
For a second time that night, I had to choke back tears. I was nervous to see what was in my hand. I moved it under the table and opened my fist... inside my hand was a one hundred dollar bill. I froze. Had I just witnessed a coincidence of God? Do these things REALLY happen? It is something I cannot even begin to explain.
So,It was right there in the middle of the cafeteria at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital that this incredible thing had happened before my eyes. On the drive home that evening, I realized that part of God's purpose for me, was to help this family.
MORE ABOUT THE FAMILY
Kindergartener- female (6 years old)
Second Grader- male (7 years old)- diagnosed with kidney failure
Fourth Grader - female (10 years old)
Mom- unable to work due to inability to speak English or drive a car.
Dad- recently lost his job due to taking off for his son's illness.
Egyptian Refugees (Christian)
Unfortunately, the family has very poor, unsanitary living conditions, so they could really use a good house cleaning (or new house if possible). The living conditions are physically affecting the children and it is very visible. They have all had to go get checked out previously this year due to this being a problem.
Kerlos has been diagnosed with double kidney failure and is unable to get a transplant at this time for reasons unknown at this time. His parents are hopeful that in the future, a transplant will be possible. He is not allowed to exercise or exert himself due to the possible cause of elevating his blood pressure. The family has just applied to homebound schooling for him, as he has already had to go to the emergency room again upon returning to school. It is just too dangerous for his health at the moment.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
This family needs EVERYTHING. I mean it. From clothes, to groceries, to homeschooling, to adult English lessons, dental care, help with medical expenses... you name it and they need it. The goal is to get as much help for them as possible to make life easier in this difficult time. ANY and ALL help is greatly appreciated. Whether it be an act of service, a gift of clothing, giftcards, ANYTHING you can think of. Let's get them the help they need.
Monetary Donations would be specifically used to purchase the following:
Clothing, Toiletries, Groceries, Cleaning Products, School Supplies, Household necessities.
Hopeful to get enough to help with Rent, Bills, Car Repairs and medical bills.
BIG HOPES... A new home, A job for the father, Health Insurance Coverage, Dental Work for the Father, Doctor visits for the entire family.
Why "ONE LOVE"
Our elementary school serves a highly diverse population, a melting pot of a sort, really. We have a large number of Egyptian Refugees. These individuals have left their country to escape religious persecution so they may worship God freely in our country without having to be afraid for their lives. These families are some of the most hardworking, God fearing, sincere humans I have ever met. In our classroom and school, we learn important life lessons from each other on a daily basis. Our students are exposed to so much diversity each and every day! In this, we are learning to accept each other for what we are, leaving the judgement at the door. Learning together and loving together. I am truly thankful to be a part of these children's lives right here and now. To me, this is much bigger than teaching, much bigger than anything I have ever been a part of before... We are learning to be fearless, unafraid of the bad in the world by showing that there is good in each of us and that just by "showing up" we can share this kindness with others and in turn make the world a better place. Part of the Egyptian Christian culture, is to get a cross tattooed on the child's wrist then another when they are an adult. The children saw mine and said, "Miss Pugh, we are the SAME!!" I smiled and said, "You are exactly right, we are." Although we are all different physically, on the inside, we are all ONE and the same. That is ultimately what matters. Please join me in spreading this belief and in spreading God's love through their story.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. Please contact me with any questions, comments, etc. that you may have.
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