St. George's, Carmichael, Helping Afghan Refugees

St. George's, Carmichael, Helping Afghan Refugees

By Lani Marks Hahn and Merle Crawford, parishioners at St. George’s, Carmichael

"In Afghanistan I lived in fear every day that I would be killed because I worked for the United States military for 13 years.”

These were the words of Maqbool, one of the Afghan refugees that St. George’s Episcopal Church in Carmichael, California has tried to help. He told some of our parishioners, “My wife’s brother was killed by the Taliban because he was a policeman. Those that belong to the Taliban are like animals. They even kill women and children. When the U.S. military offered me the chance to come to America with my family, I decided to go.

"I have only been in America two months; here in Carmichael, I no longer live in fear.”

Maqbool, the manager of a U.S. military laundry and Abdurrazig, a translator between the Afghan and U.S. military forces, first appeared at our church after we invited our surrounding neighbors to a community barbecue at our church.

The two refugees each brought their children and participated in our barbecue and Sunday School arts and crafts activity. The church was giving out children’s Bible stories. Abdurrazig’s face lit up when he saw the book about David and Goliath. He told us their holy book has the same story. He happily took it for his children.

Our church members were very impressed with Maqbool and Abdurrazig’s positive attitude and their desire to find jobs to allow them to make a transition into American life. Many church members decided they wanted to help.

Because of these two men, our church learned that there were Afghan refugees living in a nearby apartment. Maqbool told us that the DHA (Defense Health Agency) gives them $920, but their rent is $1,100, which includes SMUD, PG&E and utilities.

Each month this leaves them $180 short. They say they feel anxious knowing they will lose their apartments if they don’t find jobs. Fortunately, they speak English and have enough skills to apply for jobs.

They get food stamps and say they have enough to eat. Their apartments are furnished and they have medical insurance. Our church helped one family find a car to buy.

Currently, our church has found the greatest need of these refugees is finding jobs - temporary and permanent. One of the refugees has done some painting for a church member. He also has gone on a job interview arranged by a parishioner and was offered a job in a few weeks.

Both Afghan refugees are extremely motivated to get a job that is good enough to allow them to become financially independent. The wives want to study English, but their young children and their husband’s lack of a driver’s license limits the wives’ ability to participate in English classes. A very old computer was donated to one family; Maqbool’s teacher has promised to bring him a DVD that would help his wife learn English.

We will further investigate other agencies referred to us by First 5, Sacramento, to help these refugees: Sacramento Covered, Folsom Cordova Unified School District's Farsi-speaking staff, Folsom Cordova Job Center and 2-1-1 (a 24-hour resource and referral language line). They also referred us to the American Muslim Society.

We at St. George’s realize we have met two very motivated, appreciative Afghan refugees who in the future will improve their own family lives and make America a better place. The sorrows that have come to Afghanistan and its people are more real because we have met and interacted with these people.

1 comment (Add your own)

1. Tina Campbell wrote:
I am thankful for this ministry at St. George's. It is in these personal encounters that we can really learn about what it is like to be a refugee, and what coming to the U.S. can mean for families like these. Blessings abound!

Tue, August 29, 2017 @ 8:43 PM

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