When the news broke that Kabul had fallen to the terrorists and images poured across our screens of people falling off planes trying to escape, there was a range of emotions felt across our country. Many, like myself, were heartbroken as the last plane departed with Americans and Afghanistan allies still left behind.
There were many who wanted to do something, but just did not know what to do or how to help. I often thought of how Mary and Joseph, in the beginning of St. Matthew’s gospel, had to flee their homeland and go to Egypt because King Herod (the government) wanted to kill their baby. I thought about how fearful our allies were as they tried to get on a plane and run for their lives while the government in charge wanted to kill them. How relieved they must have been when the plane took off and was in the air. However, how fear and uncertainty must have set in again as they were not sure where they would go or how they would even live in a totally new country.
Remember when Jesus recalls the teachings of the Old Testament in the Gospel of Matthew when he speaks about how to treat the stranger? “For I was hungry, and you gave me food, I was thirsty, and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me.” (Matthew 25:35) If you are like me, I prayed a lot for those fleeing for their lives but also wondered how exactly I could do more to help. I wanted to feed the stranger, give them drink and welcome them. But I did not know how. Perhaps you are like me. You want to help and do more, but you just do not know how or where to turn. Here are some verified and legitimate organizations you can partner with who are doing some amazing work with our Afghan allies who have come to America for their safety. These organizations have an abundance of need of volunteers and resources.
The greatest need these immigrants face is to get a life established here in America. They need employment and housing. Affordable housing is not always easy to come by in this country for the average American, much less someone who has left their home in fear with basically whatever they could put in their purse or pockets. If you are a business owner looking for employees (which most businesses are at this point), then hire some of these immigrants. Help them get established. If you know someone who is a landlord, or perhaps you are a landlord, then reach out to some of these organizations and work with these immigrants to give them affordable housing.
One of the best resources is an organization called Welcome.US. This organization has created a national effort aimed toward helping our Afghan allies and they have entered into a collaboration with the State Department to help those resettled in the United States. You can go to their website at https://welcome.us/opportunities and learn more about them and their volunteer opportunities.
Catholic Charities is also heavily involved in resettling these immigrants and working with them to find housing, food, employment, and dealing with immigration paperwork and processes. Catholic Charities has locations all over the nation and there is likely one close to you or your diocese. Reach out to your local or nearest Catholic Charities and ask how you can help them and how you can volunteer.
Another organization, called Team Rubicon, is a great resource that does life changing work with those faced with disasters as well as the resettlement efforts of Afghan allies. Team Rubicon is also collaborating with the Department of Defense to ensure these allies who are brought to America are resettled and getting the assistance they need. You can check out their work and opportunities to help at www.teamrubiconusa.org.
For those unable to volunteer or donate to organizations working directly with these Afghans, but you want to help, never overlook the power of prayer. “Prayer is the best weapon we possess. It is the key that opens the heart of God,” said St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina. Never underestimate your power to make a difference in the lives of those in need by praying. St. Augustine reminds us that “whether we realize it or not, prayer is the encounter of God’s thirst and ours.” God loves those fleeing Afghanistan just as much as He loves you and me. He died for them just as He died for us. His heart is with them just as it is with us.
As Christians, it is our responsibility to be the hands and feet of Christ on earth. We should want to reach out and love those who are in need. We can all do something to make a difference. Our lives are not in danger because we helped someone protect our country. Our lives are not in danger and our government is not hunting us down door to door to execute us because we translated for a soldier. That is not the case for these Afghanistan allies who have left everything behind to come to America. They only had one choice: to live or die (to flee or stay). Let us join together and welcome them as Christ would desire for us to welcome them.