Lions, volunteers need help assisting Afghan refugees
DEERFIELD VALLEY - For more than 20 years the US military relied on allies in Afghanistan for support services. But when the Americans left Afghanistan, local allies found themselves targeted for violence by the Taliban. Recognizing its responsibility for their safety, the US government organized a resettlement program, designed to provide its allies and their families with the tools to begin a new life in America.
In the Vermont tradition of embracing newcomers, the state is opening the door to Afghan partners. Approximately 100 Afghans are expected in the southern Vermont region. Resettlement is being coordinated through the multicultural center in Brattleboro.
The Afghan families arriving here are eager to become self-supporting, contributing members of the local community. And because they have worked closely with Americans, they understand American culture. Many speak English very well.
Working with the Deerfield Valley Lions, local volunteers have started the New Neighbors Project to assist families resettling in the valley. They are actively seeking new members to assist with this effort. If interested in helping the new neighbors, there are many ways to get involved, including with:
Employment: Know of a specific, paying job opening? Afghan allies have experience working with Americans and are eager to become self-supporting and contributing members of the community.
Housing: Know of a rental house, condo or apartment or someone who might be willing to offer a temporary home stay?
Transportation: The MOOver will be a key part of a transportation plan for the new neighbors but volunteer drivers are also needed. Drivers can volunteer for a regular route or can drive on an as-needed basis.
Social support and activities: Refugees can feel overwhelmed and lonely. Volunteers are needed to act as friendly neighbors who can help the new neighbors feel welcome. There are many enjoyable ways to introduce Afghan families to life in the valley. Take a family to local fairs, flea markets, sporting events or historical sites. Introduce them to local hiking trails and recreational activities. Have tea with them at a local diner or at home. Take the children sledding or host a movie night at home or the local library. Learn how to say “welcome” in an Afghan language, like Pashto or Dari. Teach fishing, quilting, painting, and other special skills.
Financial help: Until the new arrivals have steady employment - and because many are starting over with almost nothing - financial assistance is needed.
Household items: As well, since Afghan allies are starting over with almost nothing, it is also necessary to gather clean, usable household items, including furniture, linens, cooking items, toys, bicycles, tools, and more.
To volunteer with the New Neighbors Project or get more info send an email to email@example.com.