For the past month, we’ve been watching the withdrawal of American forces in Afghanistan and began to wonder what we could do to support people seeking a better life in this country.
So we dug into refugee support systems and found a number of innovative ways Americans are coming together to welcome refugees from Afghanistan — from opening homes to newly arrived refugees through Airbnb to pledging airline miles to help someone leave a troubled situation.
If you’d like to join this effort, we suggest two ways to take this from an abstract international issue to a personal response born of solidarity and compassion: Make it local or make it personal. Which is to say, find a way to make a difference in your own community, OR find an organization that can connect you in a 1:1 way with the people you are supporting.
Make it personal
Miry’s List gathers specific needs of individual families settling in America and crowdsources to meet them. Their site offers biographical details and photos of refugee families, and then connects viewers to a wishlist from Target to deliver urgent, tangible supplies.
So, for example, they are asking people to support the Waziri family from Afghanistan:
Mom and Dad have two boys and one girl ages 11, 8, and 6 years old. They just arrived in July of 2021 and resettled in Virginia. Dad used to serve NATO for 3 years as an auto mechanic and is currently looking to start over in the same field of work in his new home. The Waziris miss their friends and family in Afghanistan but the children are already enjoying school here, and hoping for bicycles to enjoy the upcoming autumn days. Their most urgent needs are kitchen supplies, devices for children, and blankets, and they appreciate all the help from their new neighbors!
You can search Miry’s list for refugees in all sorts of situations — from new mothers to those with a disability to families with teenagers — and find ways to make a difference in their lives.
Make it local
Catholic Charities is a national organization that fights poverty in a lot of different ways — it’s essentially the way Catholics walk with people experiencing poverty in America. Catholic Charities excels at refugee support, so if you can donate to their national efforts, your funds will make a difference.
Catholic Charities also has regional branches that respond in a more local way, so it won’t take much research to find the office in your area. Most of those regional organizations are offering direct support to refugees and migrants who are arriving in your community, and you’ll be able to find ways to give time or money to people who will be your neighbors.
Another organization that can help you support local efforts: Welcome.US, a clearinghouse of information for Americans who are stepping up to welcome Afghan newcomers to our communities. Their site will help you donate time and resources, or even sponsor a family — all by connecting you to nonprofits in your city.
Many people facing desperate situations around the world have found hope and welcome in America — and often go on to make important contributions to our nation. For example, 70 percent of refugees who settle in America fill roles as essential workers. They are eager to contribute to their neighborhoods and respond to opportunity by creating new businesses, like Abdi did in Harlem: