MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Heather Hart and Muzhdah Azizi formed an unexpected friendship under unusual circumstances. Both women live in Mechanicsburg with their husbands and children. Heather is from the Midstate and Muzhdah is from Kurdistan but had to flee to the states because her family was in danger.

At first glance, Heather and Muzhdah are from different worlds. Heather grew up in Pennsylvania and never met a refugee. Muzhdah grew up in the Middle East where she had to flee because her family was being threatened. However, both grew up with strong family bonds and a sharp sense of humor.

In 2016, Heather started volunteering with Catholic Charities and a refugee response team at a local church in Mechanicsburg to help resettled refugees and immigrant neighbors. The program is meant to last for three months, but she would form a bond with Muzhdah that would bloom for years to come.

“There are so many wonderful stories I could share about American families welcoming new neighbors, friendships forming, classmates playing together, etc.,” said Hart. “It’s very easy to help someone just by being a friend, by offering to be a neighbor, by offering friendship, because you’re going to get a friend in return from that.”

To watch a one-minute video clip about their friendship (by USA for UNHCR), click here. To learn about a refugee from Somalia now living in Lancaster who is using food and conservation to build a community, click here.

Several volunteer groups and nonprofit organizations are working to acclimate an ever-growing population of international neighbors in the Midstate. Click below to learn more about how to volunteer time or resources to support local resettled neighbors.

  • West Shore Free Church (Mechanicsburg) Refugee Response e-mail
  • Pennsylvania Center for Refugees and Immigrants, click here.
  • Catholic Charities Diocese of Harrisburg, click here.
  • The Pennsylvania Immigrant and Refugee Women’s Network, click here.
  • PA Refugee Resettlement Program, click here.
  • Church World Service of Lancaster, click here.
  • To learn how to help donate financially to the non-profit UNHCR click here.

Our Heart of the Midstate segment highlights an inspirational person or organization in the community every week. To nominate someone to be featured in a Heart of the Midstate segment, e-mail us at