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Welcoming Afghan Refugees

Dear Parishioners,

It is important for you to know that our extended family of 11 persons are here and doing well as they assimilate into our American society. The Garhmi family consists of mother and father in their late 60’s, five young adult daughters (one of whom was recently married and learned she is pregnant after arriving in the US.) The Abdulizai family consists of a married daughter with her husband and three children (ages 8,5,18 months.) There are two more family members not here to date, a son and the husband to the pregnant daughter.

We, along with other faith communities, have rented two apartments for these persons in the Black Rock area of Bridgeport. Our wonderful volunteers are assisting them in fulfilling their basic needs as advocates in the area of healthcare, education, transportation, resume writing, job searching, ESL instructions, assimilation, budgeting, and filling out tons of paperwork. We are happy to announce that one of the daughters, formally a doctor in Afghanistan, has a job already at DOC in Fairfield. It is very hard for these well-educated, highly skilled and successful women to realize they need to start their job search at the bottom of the work ladder.

Their stories are heartwarming and at the same time heartbreaking. Mr. Garhmi, an advocate for democracy, had a senior position in an Afghan women’s rights organization in Jalalabad and the east. He literally has scars for attempting to stand up to the government. As a family the young daughters (all in their 20’s) are very well educated in medicine, journalism, and education. Two of the young women were quick to show their certificates of appreciation from Ft. Dix, NJ where they taught English to other refugees while waiting to be placed with a sponsoring community. While waiting to be evacuated from their country they were given 30 minutes to pack in a duffle bag only anything they wanted to bring to the US. The newly married daughter brought her wedding gown. What decision would you or I, under the same conditions, have packed if told we had to leave in 30 minutes with no hope of ever returning to our native homeland?

Mr. Abdulizai was a high official in the Office of the Governor and worked in the area of Human Resources. His wife was a teacher. Their two oldest sons love going to Black Rock School and their baby girl stays at home under her mother’s wing.

As you can imagine, as sponsors, this is a tremendous undertaking and is likewise a costly endeavor. Our coalition is totally responsible in supporting them until they can stand on their own, and have jobs so they can support themselves in many ways. If you feel so moved and wish to make a donation, kindly mail a check made out to Saint Luke and annotate it IRRC – Inter faith Refugee Resettlement Coalition. Please mail it directly to me at 84 Long Lots Road in Westport.

Blessings and many thanks.

Sister Maureen Fleming, SSND

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