FAIRFIELD — Solano County is home to women who comfort the poor and hurting, who care for the environment and who struggle against adversity to help their families.
Soroptimist International of Central Solano County honored four such women Tuesday. More than 50 people attended the luncheon at the Hilton Garden Inn.
“We had a great bunch of candidates,” Kathy Pratt of the Soroptimist Club told the gathering. “Then we had a real hard time for our judges.”
Robin Weidman, Nesrine Majzoub, Lucienne Altman-Newell and Fahima Khoram received awards.
Khoram received the Women’s Opportunity Award. It goes to a woman who is the primary financial source for her family.
She worked as a doctor in Afghanistan, then left in 1994 because of war. She became a medical officer in Pakistan along with her husband, helping refugees for a decade before returning to Afghanistan.
The family, including four children, moved to the United States in 2009 to escape threats from the Taliban after Khoram’s husband did liaison work for the U.S. military. They arrived with few possessions and no way to use their medical degrees from another country.
Today, Khoram attends Solano Community College to improve her English and computer skills and works part-time. Her husband is ill, which hinders his ability to work. She had to learn to drive, something she wasn’t allowed to do in Afghanistan.
Khoram hopes someday to take medical board tests and continue her career in medicine.
“I’m very happy,” Khoram said. “But the thing that hurts me is my profession. I love my profession.”
She believes a woman’s heart is stronger than a man’s, Khoram said. She didn’t give up and she is still OK. She hopes she will continue to be OK to help her family, she said.
Weidman is the founder of the Princess House, a Christian-based transitional home for women released from prison and jail. She received the Soroptimist Club’s Ruby Award for helping women.
She can identify with the people she is helping. Weidman at one point lived a life involving drugs, alcohol and crime and has been to jail and prison herself. She turned her life around and founded Princess House in 2007.
But running the small nonprofit has been hard at times. Weidman even considered closing the doors. Then came the Soroptimist Club award.
“It just shows me God has not forgotten us,” Weidman said.
Hilda Ross of the Soroptimist Club introduced Weidman during the presentation as “an angel of mercy and redemption.”
Sharing the Violet Richardson Award were Majzoub and Altman-Newell. The award honors young women ages 14-17 who volunteer in their communities and schools.
“This is an opportunity for us to recognize girls who step up above and beyond some of the other students,” Veronica Thomas of the Soroptimist Club said.
All of us are given gifts, Thomas said. She likes to see young women find their gifts and take leadership roles, she said.
Majzoub, a Rodriguez High School senior, has worked with the poor both locally at Mission Solano and internationally. She was to leave that very evening for a village in the Amazon jungle of Ecuador on a church mission trip. She wants to someday become a counselor for a nonprofit agency.
“I want to use my life and hopefully my career to impact other people,” she said.
Altman-Newell is an Armijo High School senior who has helped strengthen the campus recycling program. She got garbage toters donated and with other students on the school’s Green Team painted them the school colors. Special needs students do the recycling to raise money.
She was looking for some way to give back to her school, Altman-Newell said.
Pratt started the event by explaining that the word “soroptimist” means “best for women.” The group’s mission is to improve the lives of women and girls locally and around the world, she said.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.