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Afghan Resettlement

  ...for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. (Leviticus 19:33-34)

      

Under the leadership of Barbara and Mark Friedman, our community has volunteered to help relocate and integrate a family of Afghan evacuees to the greater Westwood area.      

Many Afghans had to flee their country on short notice and are now arriving in the Boston area. Resettlement is being coordinated locally by the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) and Catholic Charities of Boston, with support from Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP),  Jewish Vocational Services (JVS) and other agencies. We are partnering with Jewish Family Services of MetroWest, an experienced provider of immigrant and resettlement services, to ensure that this family will have what they need as they take their first steps towards safety in the shelter of our welcoming community.

We are very eager and excited to be part of this incredible opportunity. Providing a legacy of welcome and acceptance from the USA to a family in need not only feels right, but furthers our mission of Tikkun Olam.   At this moment in time, this feels especially urgent. 

Committee Update | December 21, 2022

The Wahidi family has been part of our lives for one year! It is hard to imagine, but as we watch the amazing progress they have made we realize how hard they have worked to assimilate, how hard our committee has worked to assist in that effort, and how fast the year has gone by. Unfortunately, the Taliban are continuing to harass the Wahidi family looking for Wahidullah, but thankfully their family in Afghanistan remains safe - and our family here thrives.

Wahidullah, to his great delight, has passed his road test and now has a MA driving license! Thanks to the donation of a used car he and his family are now mobile. He no longer bikes to work and our committee is no longer driving him for weekly shopping trips.

While the family’s transitional aid benefits have ceased, their food benefits, so far, remain intact. We are increasing their monthly rent contributions while still subsidizing some of it so that the family learns the need for careful budgeting. Wahidullah’s salary at SPOT! has increased to $17/hour and his weekly hours increased as well. The owner of SPOT! has been extremely good to Wahidullah and is enabling the process of their becoming financially independent. He is indeed a true mensch! We urge everyone to buy bagels from SPOT! as a way of expressing our appreciation for his advocacy and compassion for immigrants. (Immigration lawyers working for JFS are still in the process of getting the family recognized as legal residents but that work is progressing.)

Abubakar is thriving in kindergarten and his teachers are pleased with his progress. He is actually beginning to learn to read and write and his English is progressing by leaps and bounds! Abuzar is now 18 months old and while he is slow to speak, he has quickly learned to giggle, clap, and play with our committee members.

Sediqa is beginning to sew and we are exploring the possibility of her making Afghan women’s clothing for sale. Perhaps she can contribute to the family’s financial stability. If anyone knows of an outlet for selling Afghan clothing please let us know!

Every immunization known to us has now been given to each of them! Abubakar is so used to it that he smiles and never flinches at each new injection. Dental work and surgery for Wahidullah for a perforated eardrum have been completed.  

In our last update, we indicated that rather than do everything for the Wahidis, we are encouraging them to do for themselves – and they are. As a result, our relationship is becoming one of friends helping friends, rather than our being teachers and guardians. It has been a very rewarding journey for all of us on the committee.

As always we thank Temple Beth David members for your compassion and support,
The Afghan Resettlement Committee

Committee Update | October 3, 2022

While our Afghan family does not recognize the same New Year as we do, they do realize what an eventful year they have experienced, and welcome another year of milestones in America.

Finally all the childhood immunizations that we take for granted have been given this year to both Abubakar, our 5-year old, and Abuzar, our 15-month old. Abubakar is enrolled in kindergarten in Norwood and he wakes up eager to go. His parents are thrilled that he will be educated since they are not. Abuzar is walking now and beginning to chatter but so far without any words. His parents are devoted and caring, but as we have learned, the Afghan culture does not include talking to their children at any length. Nor can they read to Abuzar as we all did with our children. We are, therefore, beginning to get help to ensure Abuzar has all the stimulation he needs to help his speech development.

Wahidullah, much to his delight, just got his learner’s permit to drive. He will receive a few driving lessons prior to his road test, even though he can probably drive better than we can since he drove trucks and jeeps for the US Army.  Amazingly, a car is waiting for him when he passes the road test! It was donated by generous members of the congregation and the committee is so very grateful for that gift. Wahidullah’s job baking bagels continues, and it not only provides needed work, it allows for continued help with his English skills.

Sediqa is making friends where they live and recently told us she can sew traditional Afghan women’s clothes. We got her a used sewing machine and are thinking that her skill might become a means for a second income for the family. Both she and her husband have received multiple medical checks and immunizations, and are doing well with English learning. We are actually able to have short conversations with them!

The end of November 2022 will mark one year that this family has been part of our lives. While the commitment is officially one year, the committee recognizes that our relationship with them will change, but is not over. In the first year, we supported them, helped them settle and feel safe, and tried to teach them language and the ways of life here. Now we know the need to foster their self-sufficiency is even more important. We will continue to subsidize their rent until our money runs out, and will assist them when it is requested. But rather than do everything for them, we are encouraging them to do for themselves. It is indeed challenging because they neither read nor write in any language, but they are smart, eager to succeed, and increasingly more capable. We look forward to our relationship changing this year from one of teacher and guardian, to one of lasting friendship.

Thank you as always for all of your compassion and support,
The Afghan Resettlement Committee

Thu, February 2 2023 11 Sh'vat 5783