Hope Weaved Throughout Seven-Year Education Journey

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Nepali student graduates in top eight of her class and thanks BHITC tutor

God has an amazing way of weaving people’s stories together, doesn’t He?! Take the stories of Ran Maya Basnet and Stephanie Labovitz. The two originally met in 2010 when Labovitz was a brand-new volunteer tutor with Building Hope in the City (BHITC) and Basnet’s family was newly resettled to Cleveland from Nepal. At that time, BHITC ran a tutoring program at St. Colman Catholic Church on W. 65th St., where week after week, the two began getting to know each other.

A year later, Labovitz joined BHITC’s staff as an AmeriCorps member, leading its Urban Family Learning Centers (UFLC) and tutoring for two full years where she continued working with Basnet. When that opportunity ended, she began tutoring with BHITC as a volunteer again, only this time at The Hope Center for Immigrants and Refugees, where she has tutored for the last two years. Again, she found herself working with refugee students including Basnet, totaling a seven-year friendship between the two.

Basnet has come a long way since her early days of tutoring with Labovitz, working hard year after year. Her hard work paid off when she graduated this spring in the top eight people in her class at Lincoln West High School. “I didn’t know anything when I first started coming to tutoring,” says Basnet. “Pronouncing words that sounded similar was the hardest thing for me. Stephanie helped me so much with my English and with school. She and the other St. Colman tutors even met us after school and walked us to tutoring each week. We became very close. She really cared, and that has made a big difference for me.”

Education is, of course, a critical part of a person’s long-term success, but it is especially important for refugee families and their stability in the United States. “Education is so important to give refugee students hope for their future. BHITC really supports students through their education and teaching them that they have a role to play in their futures,” says Labovitz.

Time after time, BHITC sees refugees of all ages display tremendous perseverance, despite living through the hardest of circumstances, and Basnet embodies exactly that. “To be a young lady who excelled so much by working hard, she has truly become such a powerful role model for other women and other girls in her own community,” says Labovitz. “Refugees are so resilient, and this is another story of that.”

Basnet has made quite a name for herself at BHITC, having been connected to its ministries for so long, along with her other family members. “We are so proud of Ran Maya’s hard work,” says Eileen Wilson, BHITC’s Director of Refugee Ministries. “She is a really smart girl and has come so far. We’re honored to have played a part in where she is today.”

Labovitz says it was through BHITC that she completely fell in love with working with refugees. “It’s (BHITC’s refugee ministry) where I saw the Lord at work, and so that’s where I wanted to be,” she says, who now teaches full-time at a school where English is the second language for many students. “Every day I am thankful for my volunteer experiences with BHITC and for the wonderful refugees that I’ve met,” says Labovitz. “I believe in the ministry happening at BHITC. It was a joy to serve on staff and now it is a joy to be a volunteer. So many people are clinging to the hope that Building Hope provides.”

Contact Laurie Kubiak for more information on tutoring or the meals ministry at laurie@buildinghopeinthecity.org.

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