Afghan Refugees Need Our Support
Afghan Refugees are safe from harm in Afghanistan but far from feeling safe in America.
Newly arrived Afghan Refugees are our new neighbors who truly need our help.
Because of the severe cutbacks to refugee resettlement during the Trump administration, the official U.S. resettlement agencies are understaffed and unprepared to provide the bare necessities for more than 70,000 Afghans in a short span of time.
The federal government provides 90 days assistance, after the 90 days, the “resettled” refugees are typically on their own to find jobs and everything else needed to survive. Most newly arrived Afghans in Michigan speak very little or no English. They speak several different languages and many different dialects which has overwhelmed translation services. Families are left alone and helpless without help to understand their new environment.
In Michigan, where Mercy-USA is headquartered, there are at least 1,600 newly arrived Afghans. Housing has been a serious problem due to the affordable housing crisis. Most families were placed in hotels for months while they await placement in apartments, leaving them in limbo without adequate cooking facilities or school enrollment for their children.Those that have been placed in housing are often forced to accept housing that is too expensive and many are unsure about how they will make ends meet once their resettlement cases are closed.
These families are completely unfamiliar with American life, and struggle with everyday tasks that we take for granted such as paying bills and reading their mail, scheduling a doctor’s appointment, filling a prescription, navigating the bus system, or even operating a coin laundry. Most are unable to obtain drivers licenses or purchase vehicles which makes getting to and from any job difficult. Many mothers are pregnant and families are unfamiliar with the healthcare system and how to arrange for prenatal care and birthing services.
Mercy-USA has contracted with a talented Afghan refugee to help us as a program assistant in Michigan. She has experience working in the humanitarian sector and speaks multiple languages spoken in Afghanistan. She is helping our staff gain access to and create programs for Afghan refugees so that we can help them get on their feet and thrive in the United States.
Mercy USA has been working hard to assist and provide for our most vulnerable Afghan neighbors. Current programs include:
- Cultural orientation/integration support: Home visits to explain common tasks such as how to access public transportation, understand and pay bills, use SNAP and WIC benefits or schedule a doctor’s appointment, etc.
- Store gift cards for vulnerable households for necessities such as food, school clothes and supplies for their children, household goods, cookware, etc.
- Nonclinical case management and support for pregnant mothers facilitating equitable access to the American healthcare system for vulnerable Afghan Women. This project aims to provide:
- Contingency planning and coaching to understand how emergency services work:
- Birth plans for routine pregnancies (scheduling transportation to and from the hospital and arranging childcare for existing children, etc.)
- Mobilizing the community to arrange in-kind support for mothers to be (collecting essential baby items and working with volunteers to arrange local events to welcome newborns).
We need you to join us in helping our new neighbors truly settle into their new life. They feel invisible and lost, your gift will tell them they are loved and not forgotten.