The very first time I heard about the Snowdrop Project, I began to think of how to get involved; what could I bring that could help these women? What skills or knowledge or gift had been given to me that I could pass on and share? Qualified to teach English as a second language, and with some experience under my belt, I wondered if this was something that I could tangibly do to help these women renew their sense of worth and purpose in life and begin to live again in a strange land.
A seed had been sown – but it wasn’t until 3 years later that the seed began to tentatively push its head above the ground and begin to take life. Circumstances had caused me to dream again about how it might be possible to share the skills I had been given to teach English and in March 2016, Hope English School was born. Not long afterwards, in May of that year I walked into my first group of Snowdrop women to teach our first lesson. It was incredibly daunting to walk in amongst a noisy group of women, all chatting away, whilst children cried or played loudly nearby. They were all strangers to me, each with their own unique story as to what had brought them to Snowdrop.
Now, just one year on from that first class, it is a thrill to me to hear the doorbell ring, and the women making their way in to begin the class – we greet each other warmly, eagerly exchanging news of how we are and how are children are. With pens out and worksheets handed around we continue to build step by step the language blocks that these women so rely on. And as I look around the room I am struck by how far these women have come in their learning, despite the challenges they already face each day, they have chosen to get up, bringing their little ones with them, and arrive, on time, to be part of our hopeful community. One of these ladies in particular has really shone; her English is very good already and so she asked to be one of the helpers, patiently taking the time to assist with planning the classes, carefully explaining to them the basic rules of English grammar, and thereby increasing her own confidence and purpose in life. We have become friends, sharing children of a similar age, we can laugh at how we’re embracing our thirties and together I hope, we can open doors to women who’ve had so many slammed in their face.
Jen Gladwell at Hope for English
Hope for English weekly English classes ran at the Snowdrop Project for female survivors are currently full with new referrals being accept in September.