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Solace Children Going Home

5:37 PM, Jul 21, 2010   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It has been quite the adventure and quite the summer for the Coker family.  It all started 6 weeks ago at the airport when 16 children arrived from Afghanistan. 

As they waited at the airport in early June, the Coker's two oldest children, Caroline and William, made signs so when the child they were hosting from Afghanistan got off the airplane, they would be able to find each other.  There were plenty of tears and hugs as the Cokers welcomed Sahar to America and to their home. 

One of their biggest concerns was if they would be able to communicate, but that hasn't been a problem. 

"It was a lot easier than what we expected. We were very fortunate in that Sahar speaks a lot of English and in general she's brilliant," said Bryan Coker, host father.

Sahar came here through a program called Solace for Children to receive treatment for severe headaches.  In Afghanistan, there's only one doctor and one dentist for every 50,000 people.  Turns out, Sahar needed a lot of dental work. 

"With the dental work done, with the better eating habits, and we're sending her back with a good bit of medication; hopefully she'll be able to manage things better," said Coker.

In between medical and dental visits, Sahar got to experience the beach; a water slide, a day of beauty at Mac Hair Studio, and she lived with Sara and Bryan Coker and their 3 children.

Their 9-year old daughter Caroline and Sahar have become very close. There's no communication problem here. They are constantly talking and giggling.  "Even at night when they're supposed to be asleep," said Coker.

Packing up to leave is not easy.  Sahar's suitcase can only be 42-pounds, and she has so much she wants to take back to Afghanistan.  As for her backpack she'll carry on the plane, it's  heavy, but contains items Sarah doesn't want to part with, including American books and a photo album of her trip to America.   

When asked, "What will you miss most about Jacksonville and America?" Sahar answers, "My host family." 

Going home is bittersweet for everyone and it is difficult to say good-bye. "We kind of have a feeling our paths will cross again and we definitely hope that's the case. She's been the perfect fit for our family," said Coker. 

Sahar is heading back to Afghanistan free of her severe headaches and she's also taking back a lot of items gathered by local churches for other kids in Afghanistan; things like toothbrushes, soap, medicine and school supplies.

It is hard for Sahar to leave her host family, but she is looking forward to seeing her parents and her friends in Afghanistan.   

First Coast News

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