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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 | May 3, 2023

Past updates about our family from Afghanistan have focused on their detailed health, employment, education, immigration status and English learning. In this update we would like to share with you more about the family themselves and why they have become so important in the lives of our committee members. 

Wahidullah, husband and father, is a hard-working man who takes his work seriously and has become highly valued by his employer – SPOT! Bagel in Norwood – who has made Wahidullah production manager! He is meticulous about his finances and is planning, as he needs to, for the time next February when the Temple is no longer able to subsidize their rent. He conscientiously contributes to his savings account monthly. Because his character is kind and devoted, he worries about his family back in Afghanistan and dutifully budgets so he is able to send them some money every month. Whaidullah’s English is improving rapidly, he is very personable, and is now relaxed enough to show his delightful sense of humor. He adores his wife and children and it shows.

Sediqa is a fun-loving and very devoted wife and mother. She wears traditional Afghan clothing and when at the Mosque, wears a shoulder length burka that covers her face. She prays at home while Wahidullah goes to the Sharon Mosque every Friday morning. Sediqa is a good cook and, being very hospitable, she always offers food and drink. She makes delicious homemade bread, and our committee members have consumed lots and lots of tea! The Afghan culture does not include her doing too much outside the home so Wahidullah does all the shopping. We have taken her on excursions, which she has enjoyed, but is always careful to be home in time to either meet the school bus or make dinner for Wahiduallah to eat at work. Sediqa speaks to her family every day via Whats App and has made a friend in the neighborhood.

Abubakar is in kindergarten now and by every measure is thriving – thanks in part to the start he received at our wonderful Temple preschool! He hardly ever sits still, is a born leader with other children his age, is already amazingly adept at English (often helping us provide explanations to his parents) is learning to read, and has a very vivid imagination. He has only two wishes now – “to buy a lamborgini and have a million pieces of candy!” He often picks up his young brother and carries him around on his shoulder – which makes us shudder with fear while they both love it!  The best, and worst, thing is that he has become totally Americanized – he is glued to his iphone!

Abuzar is almost 2 years old and is very cute in both his mannerisms and his joy in accomplishing something – he claps for himself and squeals with delight! He knows what he wants and lets you know what he wants with actions but not words. Since he doesn’t yet speak, (Interesting to note that Abubakar didn’t speak until 2 years old) he is receiving speech therapy intervention and loves that activity.  He is an adorable child who relishes when committee members visit and play with him. Sadly, he often cries when we leave, making it hard to actually leave. Thanks to Rabbi Karen and generous Temple members, he will begin Shalom Corner three days a week in September.

Our committee remains the most devoted, helpful, wonderful people who are always eager to volunteer when needed. It would be impossible to mention all the things each member has done but suffice it to say that whether it is sitting with them for 5 hours waiting for taxes to get done or immigration status to be investigated, or volunteering to do dentistry work and speech therapy, or overseeing English learning, education for the boys, employment, benefits, and all dental and medical issues, or providing rides and banking education, or so much more, this committee never falters.

If anyone should wonder why that is so –the committee simply looks at the people we are assisting and knows – and feels -why. Yes this is challenging and all-encompassing at times, but doing a mitzvah such as this far outweighs those challenges.

Thank you, as always, to Temple members for helping to make this all happen with your generosity.

Sincerely,

The Afghan Resettlement Committee

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

Sat, June 15 2024 9 Sivan 5784