Stories of Change

Sarla (left) arriving from school with her next door neighbor and friend

Sarla’s Right to Learn

In mid-October 2022, our staff at the CWS National Call Center received a call from a single mother in Alabama looking for help enrolling her daughter in public school. Norma Angelica and her 8-year-old daughter, Sarla, arrived in the United States this past summer looking for a safe place to live. When it was time to enroll in school, Sarla was excited to begin her studies. Despite arriving with the proper legal documentation, however, the local elementary school did not want to enroll her. The school stated that although they lived within the school district with another family, they did not have a home address. Norma tried to explain that she lived with her aunt, but the principal refused and said her name must be on a home bill. Even after Norma’s name was successfully added as a secondary home occupant and to an electric bill, the principal refused to accept the documents.

Norma was heartbroken for her little girl, who would cry whenever she saw a school bus pass by. In a final attempt to seek assistance, Norma called the CWS National Call Center. She asked the call specialist if they could talk to the principal and convince him somehow to accept the girl. The call specialist explained that while CWS does not have the authority to directly influence school districts, we would do our best to advocate for Sarla.

The Call Center team jumped into action, contacting several human rights organizations that provide services in Alabama. The legal services organization Latino Justice agreed to reach out to the family and provide support. On October 29, 2022, the Call Center received a text message from an overjoyed Norma. The text read, “Hello good evening. I wanted to let you know that my little girl was accepted to enroll in public school. Thank you for your assistance.” Our team was ecstatic and relieved.

The CWS Call Center specialist contacted Norma to confirm that everything went well. Norma confirmed that Sarla had been successfully enrolled in school and attended her first day! The day ended in celebration for the Call Center Staff. We were proud to know that our work networking with other organizations had made the day and year for one special 8-year-old girl. Sarla was excited to learn and grow in her new school, create friendships and flourish through new beginnings.

The CWS Call Center is a number devoted to serving the needs of immigrants looking for support. Phone calls are answered Monday through Friday from 9 am-5pm Eastern Time. To learn how you can support our work by strengthening our resource database, please contact Call Center Program Manager, Ahmed Abbas, at