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A high school senior in Northern Virginia has no shortage of big questions to face: how to keep grades up, where to apply for college, who to ask to prom, what to do with the future. Just to name a few.

But when it came time for George Mason High School senior George Castillo’s Eagle Scout Project — a project he must plan and orchestrate to benefit a non-profit that does good in the world and makes an impact in the community — there was no question in his mind.

“I originally heard about Tahirih Justice Center from my mom, and since then, I’d always wanted to help the organization — the mission struck a chord with me,” George said.

Unloading the CarTahirih Justice Center is a national non-profit that protects courageous immigrant women and girls who refuse to be victims of violence. At a time of multiple refugee crises, immigration debates, and discussions about women’s rights globally, the meaningful nature of Tahirih’s lifesaving work resonated with George and his friends.

He decided to plan a “Back to School” drive, gathering school supplies for Tahirih clients who have escaped violent situations and are in the process of rebuilding their lives. Whether fleeing a forced marriage or a number of other human rights abuses, the path to safety is a difficult one.

They often must say goodbye to everything they know and love, including their communities and their families.

“When your entire life is turned upside down, and you have to start over from scratch, there is often no room in a tight budget for important items like new pencils and folders for your daughter’s first day at school. Our clients may have to make the choice between those items and putting food on the table that night,” said Lee Hopkins, Tahirih’s Greater DC Social Services Program Manager. “Thanks to George’s generosity, many families in crisis didn’t have to make that choice. They had the materials they needed to start school on the right foot.”

By the end of the drive, George had collected an entire car full of school supplies for women and girls who refuse to accept a life of violence.

“I’m happy I was able to help in the slightest way,” said George.

As for what the future holds, George knows that he wants to help people in different places around the world. He’s off to a great start.

Featured photos: Top – George Castillo with his parents and Greater DC Social Services Manager Lee Hopkins. Middle – Tahirih staff help George unload supplies from his car.

Help a survivor rebuild her life