Boise refugee family navigates back-to-school season

Boise, ID - Back-to-school season: an exciting-- albeit sometimes hectic-- time for families in the Treasure Valley. But for some, going back to school is no "two plus two."

“I think difficult is when I speak to other people— when I’m wrong and they not understand," said Shihira Shakur, a refugee student going into 7th grade at South Junior High School.

The Shukur family moved to Boise eight months ago as refugees from Malaysia, and formerly Indonesia.

“For us to get a better education, so we can go to school and be a good person," said Sovia Shukur, the older Shukur sister, who is going into 10th grade.

The Borah High and South Junior High students are returning to school Monday-- and they’re hoping they can find their classrooms.

“I’m looking around the school, like, ahh, so hard to find it," said Shukur.

Sovia was enrolled for only the last three months of the prior school year, studying only alongside other refugees. But this year, that changes.

“This year I think I will meet all american students. Before this, I don’t have, so, it’s so hard for me because Americans speak English so fast.”

But she says the Borah High teaching staff shows compassion.

“Because in Borah, there’s a lot of refugee students, so the teachers are really patient to, with, help us with the English.”

Their father is out of work due to illness, and their mother works at a laundry facility to make ends meet, making simple things like school supplies a difficult topic to navigate.

“We just move here, and then we don’t know how to get that in here, like school backpacks, the supplies, the pencils," said Sovia Shukur.

Thankfully, their place of worship, The Islamic Center of Boise, partnered with ICNA to host a School Supply Giveaway. The Shakurs were grateful to have attended.

“I get a new bag, a book, a ruler, scissors… thank you so much," said Sovia Shukur.
“I feel happy, yeah I feel happy I can get free," said Shihira Shukur.

The mosque says this is their way of giving back to the community.

“You don’t have to be rich to donate...ya know? It requires a big heart to give," said Reshma Akhtar, Refugee Liason at the Islamic Center of Boise.

And a big heart and love for their daughters is exactly what brought this family to Boise.

“Like [my father], he say he don’t know too much. He don’t know English, and he don’t know some things, some words, you know? So he wants us to be an even better person.”

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