Did you know that hundreds of families of Afghan refugees are being resettled here in Denver? After decades of serving beside American troops in Afghanistan, these families have left behind everything they have ever known to start a new life in the United States. Although it feels strange to compare our privileged, chosen, and safe experience as Peace Corps volunteers to the unimaginable trauma that these families have endured - when I think about what they must be going through right now, I can't help but remember how lost, scared, and overwhelmed I felt when I first arrived to my country of service. Tasks that were once simple like ordering food at a restaurant, engaging in small-talk, riding a bus, going to the doctor, or even having a close friend to have dinner with suddenly felt complex and overwhelming. I'll also always remember my host family and the way they welcomed me into their family and made me feel seen, cared for, and less alone. Although I was still lost and confused and struggling with the language - I always knew my family was there to support me. They helped me learn a new language and navigate a new culture, taught me how to be safe, and were my biggest advocate and cheerleader as I navigated the complexities of creating a new life in a country I knew nothing about. If this resonates with you, ignites your sense of compassion, or inspires you to want to get involved in helping these newly arrived Afghan refugees - please join us. There are many ways to get involved. First, we are in the process of forming "family support teams." This is a group of between 4 - 6 Americans who will be assigned to support one Afghan family. This is a commitment of a few hours a week for at least 6 months, and your team will support this family in creating their new life in the US. This could be helping with transportation needs, new home setup, language skills, navigating bureaucracy and filling out paperwork, or getting medical care. We especially need more men in these teams - the recommendation is at least 2 men per team in order to honor gender preferences in different situations. We especially need speakers of Farsi and Pashto to help with translation and interpretation. No matter your demographics - if you are reading this and feel called to get involved, please join us in welcoming these families to our country, saying to them "thank you for your service," and greeting them with a type of compassion and understanding unique to Returned Peace Corps Volunteers.
If committing to a family support team is more than you can take on right now, but you'd like to get involved in other ways - here are some other ways to get involved:
- Sign up to be part of the transportation team.
- Help out in an English Class or one of our Language Support programs.
- Be part of our Food Share program and help get fresh produce to the refugee community.
You can email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how to get involved or to get connected with a "family support team."