Is There a Doctor in the House?
By Barbara Reusch
(from the Spring 2017 “Beacon of Hope” newsletter of the Interfaith Hospitality Network of Ocean County)

StethoscopeDr. Aissata Diawara! The title and name together sound like music to our ears. They represent the usual many years of sacrifice and hard work that any medical doctor invests. However “Dr. Diawara” is even sweeter-sounding because many Interfaith Hospitality Network volunteers have known Aissata’s family since she was in fifth grade. They had moved to the US from Mali, West Africa, and were struggling to survive in Lakewood with only a little knowledge of the English language.

Aissata and her five sisters, with their father, Diana, and mother, Sina, became guests of Interfaith Hospitality. Interfaith staff and volunteers bonded with this lovely family and continued to be involved with them, as they are with all families who’ve found affordable housing-acting as advocates, as tutors, as translators when English was a barrier, as Santa Claus at the holidays, and even as matchmakers when someone donated a good used car the Diawaras needed for transportation.

We watched Diarra and Sina raise their large family, now with boys joining the girls, with great love and sacrifice, stressing the importance of working together and each being responsible for the others. Unbelievably, the little girls that we knew in program have grown up, each one showing different talents and gifts. All work very hard to contribute to the family’s well-being. One is a successful model in Manhattan; three are college graduates; two are enrolled at Wagner College and Temple University; Oumou, Aissata’s twin sister, is pursuing her dream of becoming a pharmacist at Touro University in Manhattan. Aissata, having completed medical school as well as rotations in different areas of medicine in Mercy and Jackson Park Hospitals in Chicago, has applied for a residency position in September. Which hospital will have the good judgment to choose this bright young doctor with a strong work ethic?

Proud to claim the Diawara family as neighbors in Toms River since 2004, we enjoy occasional visits from Aissata, Oumou, and their older sister, Hawa, chat with others in the family, and enjoy sampling special dishes Sins has cooked at the holidays. Interfaith shared its love and support with the Diawara family when they were in need. Since arriving in the US, this family has worked diligently as productive citizens. The children are achieving good educations that will broaden their choices of employment and enable them to earn financial security. Their loyalty to family, their kindness to and caring for others, their unceasing hard work, and their gratitude to God for all the blessings they received make us very thankful that we can call them friends!