My Y Story – Aziz Moltafet
Emma Lazarus’s words are eternally engraved on a bronze plaque outside the Statue of Liberty. They read, “…Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” For Shah Perai Mohammed Osman and her four boys, that light began shining in July of 2012 and led them through America’s golden door and right into the Y.
From Soviet occupation to Taliban oppression to an arranged marriage mirroring enslavement, Shah Perai Mohammed Osman and her boys needed something more than darkness. They needed something other than the vast wasteland that had become their home in Afghanistan. They needed hope, and after arriving to the United States, with the help of the YMCA, that is exactly what they got. Mimicking the famous words of Ms. Lazarus, the Y does not turn anyone away. Rather, the Y provides those who need it most with a safe place to learn, grow and thrive. It is with these welcoming and nurturing characteristics that Shah Peria’s first born son, Aziz, has been afforded the opportunity to provide for his family.
For the last year, the family has been diligently using the facilities at the North YMCA, thoroughly enjoying the benefits of their membership. Aziz received a scholarship for lifeguard training where he excelled through sheer determination coupled with a remarkable personality and attitude.
Wanting to give back to a place that had given him and his family so much, Aziz asked to volunteer to do anything he could, especially in the pool. When no opportunities were presently available to volunteer, he used his new skills to apply for a position as a lifeguard, a position he is currently using as a means to help his family financially. Day in and day out, Aziz brightens up those around him with his hard work and a smile that would make any lamp pale in comparison. Through the Y, Aziz has been able to realize some of the immense potential that exists when someone, the Y in this case, gives you a chance.
Aquatic safety is vitally important to fulfilling the Y’s mission and cause. In 2015, the YMCA of the Inland Northwest trained and certified over 150 lifeguards.