September 15, 2021

Planning The Welcome: We’re Getting Ready For Afghan Refugees

Refugees thrive when their communities welcome them and are involved in their integration.

You haven’t heard much from us because we’ve been busy preparing the framework – both in terms of financial and volunteer capacities – for receiving the many refugees destined for our area. We have only gradually been contacting new volunteers on an as needed basis because, while thousands of refugees are expected to be arriving in the Bay Area, it will take months or even a year for them all to come due the government’s crippling backlog. So far, in the last month, we have fully furnished apartments for two families and provided hot meals, groceries and baby supplies for 25 other households, but we know our work has only just begun.

Here are four ways you can help:

Volunteer

  • If you have already filled out our volunteer form, we have your information and will be in contact with you if your skill set matches the needs of incoming families. More than 600 people filled out the form— which is wonderful!–but we may not be able to utilize all your generous offers of help.

  • The American Association of Yemeni Students and Professionals (AAYSP) is looking for tutors college-age or above to work  in-person on reading in English with Arabic or Pashto-speaking elementary school students in Oakland. The minimum time commitment is one hour per week for the academic year. You do not need to have foreign language skills, but familiarity with Muslim culture is required. Some positions are paid at $20/hour. Fill out this form to indicate interest.

  • We are looking for a volunteer coordinator to work fi sibilallah. We’re guessing it will be 10-12 hours per week, but the scope is still to be determined—and we need someone able to respond on very short notice. If you’re interested, please send a letter explaining your relevant experience to aminah@mcceastbay.org.

Housing and Employment Leads

  • When refugees first arrive in this country, they have no credit history and no employment, making landlords hesitant to rent to them. Assistance in locating housing and/or jobs is really the fundamental way to help them succeed. Use this form to share housing or employment referrals and/or to indicate willingness to co-sign on a lease.

  • There is no currently known need for fostering children. Very few unaccompanied minors have arrived in the United States.

In-Kind Assistance

  • Household and furniture items needed for setting up apartments (positively no new or used clothes can be accepted at this time): https://mcceastbay.org/furniture

  • The MCC Car Program has facilitated donation of 150 vehicles to date and has a long waiting list we expect to grow: https://mcceastbay.org/car-program

  • Food pantry: We’re filling the shelves and stocking up on ethnic food items. See what’s needed: https://mcceastbay.org/pantry-donations

  • Cell phones, very gently used and fully unlocked from any carrier company, are needed. Chargers need to be included. We are also accepting gently used, fully wiped laptops and Chrome books, also complete with chargers. Please contact aminah@mcceastbay.org to arrange drop off.

  • At this time most of the items on our Amazon apartment set-up gift list have been purchased. The primary needed items remaining are Amazon gift cards, unlocked cell phones and Chrome books. Please continue to check in as we will add more items in the future on an as-needed basis.

Donate

Some of this refugee influx from Afghanistan will be coming in as “parolees,” which means they will not be eligible for normal resettlement or public benefits. That will put more onus on the community to help. MCC and SRVIC are in for the long haul and we need your support.

  • Your financial donations are needed now more than ever to ensure we have the funds to support new refugees. General cash donations (sadaqa) can be made here. Zakat can be given here: https://mcceastbay.org/zakat-fund

Thank you so much for joining us in this urgent effort. Together, we can replace fear and displacement with a new home and renewed hope.

Aminah Abdullah
aminah@mcceastbay.org

PS. We are helping resettlement efforts only in the Bay Area. Here are some local nonprofit organizations who are sending humanitarian aid to Afghanistan:

Immigration and Policy Resources:

  • CAIR CA

    • Should you need more information, please contact:
      CAIR San Francisco Bay Area
      CAIR Greater Los Angeles at 714.776.1177 or Online Here
      CAIR Sacramento Valley/Central California at 916.441.6269 or Online Here
      CAIR San Diego at 858.278.4547 or Online Here.

  • MPAC Panel discussion with experts who share their experiences as Afghan-Americans, recorded on Tuesday, August 24. Watch here on their Facebook page

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