A Story of Giving
NewPath’s Elementary School Principal to spend a month in Greece supporting local refugee children through a summer education program.
Learning Center for Refugee Children
Esther Vazquez, NewPath Elementary Principal, has worked with NewPath Child & Family Solutions (formerly St. Joseph Orphanage) for seven school years. Like many of NewPath’s team, she serves year-round through the work they do each day. Esther is one of many NewPath staff that continue to give even in their free time. Before starting her career with NewPath, Esther moved from Boston to the Cincinnati area to work at OTR Living Water Church. In 2019, Living Water’s pastor and his wife began a ministry in Greece focused on supporting local refugee children and their families.
Providing Education to those in need
Esther and a team of volunteers launched a learning center for Afghan and Iranian refugee children last summer to address the growing need for education. “Our ministry is small, but we have started to build connections with refugees around Europe. As I go to Greece, the focus will be to host our Learning Center again for the summer,” said Esther. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported “1.7 million refugee children of school age” in 2019. More than half of these refugee children do not have access to school. Esther will use the curriculum she built last year to continue educating this year’s students. “We will be teaching Math, English, Technology, and Social Skills. After my month of stay, there will be other teachers and volunteers that will continue the program until August,” Esther noted.
The Learning Center strives to not only educate refugee children but also foster relationships with local families and the community. “Last year’s enrollment was 35 children, and we are hoping to have the same number.” She explained that “the focus is not to grow in size, but to grow deeper in relationship with these families.” Teachers and volunteers of the Learning Center remain in contact with most of last year’s students and their families.
Recieving Joy in Return
The opportunity to travel to Greece and support young refugee students and their families fosters Esther’s passion for helping underserved children. “It is an amazing opportunity and privilege to get to meet these resilient families who are doing the best they can to keep their families safe,” she spoke of her experience.
Esther has heard tragic stories from the children attending the Learning Center. Many students were separated from their families as they fled their homes and had not seen their parents for years. Others have witnessed family members killed in front of them. Esther has become more than a teacher to the children she helps. She is a vital piece of the support system provided by this ministry. They assist children and families in coping with past trauma and work toward finding future happiness. “Getting to work with the children and meeting the families have been a joy and privilege,” she said.
What You Can Do to Help
Cincinnati is a “sanctuary city” that houses more than 25,000 refugees across the greater Cincinnati area. Volunteer with local organizations such as RefugeeConnect, a nonprofit organization that works to rebuild the lives of refugees that have been uprooted from their homes.
If you would like to donate to Esther’s trip: Fund Esther’s Trip
Esther works year round helping children and families locally at NewPath Child & Family Solutions, to donate to her daily work complete the form below.
Support Trauma-Informed Education
NewPath offers education for boys and girls in Kindergarten – 12th grade with a full-scale IQ of 50 and above. The youth in this program may or may not have a documented mental health diagnosis or specific learning disabilities but are experiencing severe behavioral concerns that negatively impact their ability to function in a traditional school setting.
NewPath’s goal is to empower youth to learn and exhibit behavior management and coping skills in order to return their home school district. Change the futures of children and teens receiving education at NewPath by giving a monetary gift below.
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