Helping Afghan Refugees – 2021

| September 10, 2021 | 0 Comments

Update: 9-25-21

Good evening,

I’ve been having a lot of phone calls with people the last few days. I am energized and excited about all the possibilities for blessing foreigners and strangers. This evening a few of us met together to put this email together.

Monday or Tuesday I hope to have information for how people can donate to a plain Anabaptist group in Lancaster, PA (city) that has been working with refugees for quite a number of years.

Refugee resettlement agencies want to get every refugee family and individual in contact with a local welcome team. One thing I am learning is that public awareness is very high right now and there are many volunteers all over the nation. Refugee resettlement agencies are inundated with calls and volunteers right now. Some of this has to do with the US refugee program being nearly shut down during the Trump administration and many agencies needed to terminate staff and drastically reduce their budgets. Now they are suddenly needing to find homes for at least 50,000 Afghans and they don’t have the staff or the funds to scale up very quickly. 6-12 months from now (when the public awareness has dimmed and many volunteers have gone back to their normal lives) is when agencies will be really looking for help.

There are 9 large agencies that work with the Federal Government to resettle refugees. Then there are hundreds of other organizations that receive refugees from these 9 organizations. Phone calls and visits are being made to a few agencies but many more could be pursued.

We are looking for a volunteer(s) to call resettlement agencies in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, and Texas and ask the following questions.

  1. What do you need help with in addition to money?  What are your top five immediate needs?
  2. Do you have need for temporary housing?
  3. What are some things individuals or community groups can help with?
  4. If we can donate items, where do we drop them off?  Where do we ship them?
  5. What is the process for becoming a volunteer with your organization? Are there background checks?  Application Forms?

(If you or someone you know wants to volunteer to do one of these states or all of these states, please send an email to news@plainnews.org. We can provide the phone numbers. All you need to do is call the agencies and record the information.)

Many Anabaptists are wondering how they can help refugees.  At this point, the field is so new to many of us that we will first need to start becoming familiar with the refugee resettlement world.
Here are some suggestions to begin working on while looking for opportunities to help:

Start forming a local team of people interested in helping refugees. If you can find enough people in your county, great. If not, a regional team may need to be formed from several counties. This church or team will discover and identify what services they may be able to provide for refugees.  (You may want to consider starting a ministry to refugees/immigrants/migrant workers as many of the same services can be utilized in all three categories.)

Here are some questions to discuss as a group:

  1. Will donated funds be accepted?
  2. If yes, will funds be channeled through a church or through a non-profit organization?  (Conservative Anabaptist attorneys are willing to help set up a non-profit organization.)
  3. Immediate Personnel needs: (These could be volunteers or persons paid from a local treasury.)
  1. Can we provide personnel to travel to processing centers (often on military bases) and serve for 1 week to 4 weeks.
  2. Can we provide personnel to volunteer at refugee resettlement agencies?
  1. Ongoing needs:
  1. Can we provide housing? (for how many individuals or families?)
  2. Can we provide furniture and housewares?
  3. Can we provide towels and linens, etc.?
  4. Can we provide clothing for men, women and children? (Afghan women may be glad for modest clothing)
  5. Can we assemble welcome kits for refugees leaving processing centers (often military bases)?  This includes hygiene items, etc.
  6. Can we provide employment at a sustainable wage?
  7. Can we provide transportation?
  8. Can we provide ESL classes or tutoring? (English as a Second Language.) If not, can we help them enroll in ESL classes?
  9. Can Community orientation.  Show refugees how and where to shop, introduce them to healthcare providers, a vehicle and place to practice driver training, etc.
  10. Legal and Financial: Help with filling out applications for jobs, driver’s license, opening bank accounts, bank cards, food stamps, income tax filing.  Financial literacy.
  11. Advocates to accompany people to doctors’ offices, driver licensing, legal offices, etc.

More ideas for how to help can be found at this link.

While you wait on opportunities for involvement, consider:
E. Cross Cultural Communication: Begin learning to communicate with people who know very little English using phone apps, picture dictionaries, etc.

  1. Cross Cultural Understanding: Learn more about the culture of the people you hope to meet and some sensitivities to be aware of.  Prohibited foods, unfamiliar foods, customs, taboos, religious prohibitions, etc.

Please post on this GoogleGroup, any information you get from resettlement agencies about how to help and where.

Let’s pray for those who are already working to obtain information and are already helping refugees.  And then pray for God to open doors for our involvement now, as well as in the future.

Toward the better,
Ernest Eby | State College, PA

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Update: 9-24-21

Some folks from Shiloh Mennonite Church, Ladysmith, WI (Bethel Fellowship) are attempting to resettle refugees. They are looking into the options of starting a resettlement agency. Persons interested in more information can contact: Leon Smith | 715-three14-0388

Access to a recording that presents their vision to the Anabaptist community in Wisconsin on 9-10-21...
712-432-8788 PIN# 54479#
to rewind 2 minutes *4
to fast forward 2 minutes *6 

To join a GoogleGroup of Anabaptists interested in helping refugees, sign up here or send an email to refugee-assistance+subscribe@googlegroups.com

An accountant has volunteered his services. An Anabaptist attorney has been identified.  Anabaptist volunteers from many states are expressing interest in helping refugees and helping an agency get started.

Please keep praying about this...

Ernest Eby
Managing Editor

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Attached/Linked to this email are expanded lists of agencies throughout the United States that are helping resettle the Afghan refugees that have arrived in recent weeks. Linked here is a list of resettlement agencies across the country. Linked here is a list of resettlement agencies in the state of Wisconsin.

There are numerous faith-based organizations among the agencies helping resettle immigrants, including organizations run by Catholics, Lutherans, and Jews. However, we are not aware of any Anabaptist organization that helps resettle new immigrants arriving in the United States. This is a tremendous opportunity to provide physical, emotional, and spiritual support to a needy group of people in our country, and we are currently not taking advantage of it. While it may be too late for an Anabaptist organization to form and help the Afghan immigrants, there are thousands of people from other countries who come to the U.S. every year with exactly the same needs. If anyone reading this would have interest in helping found or support an Anabaptist-run refugee organization please contact us, and we will put you in touch with other people who share the vision.

 

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