Melanie Gray, Director of Outreach and Mission for Christ Church Alexandria, sent out an appeal on Friday, Oct. 15. Gray is the coordinator of a Refugee Ministry, composed of a group of community faith-based organizations. They have been working together to assist refugee families with everything from rental assistance to food, companionship and advice with navigating the daily challenges of American life. The current focus is to provide financial assistance so that the families who have been fortunate enough to come to America can help those members of their families left behind.
Parvez Kakar and his family was able to come to America in 2017 on a special visa program for Afghans who had worked for the American government. But he says his siblings and parents are still in Afghanistan and unable to find a way out. He said he was just able to get $200 sent to them but “that is like nothing. People ask me how they are surviving. They used to have meat, chicken, a healthy diet. Now they don’t have these things — just bread, tea, sugar. And there are no jobs to support them.”
Parvez says his cousin was able to get to America with his pregnant wife and two-year-old son and was sent to Quantico to be processed. But a few days ago after the vetting process was completed his cousin decided to depart the base because his cousin and wife they don’t speak fluent English. They were afraid the International Organization for Migrants would send them to a far away state where they would be by themselves and life would be difficult for them.
So he is temporarily living with Kakar and his wife and three sons. “My cousin’s wife couldn’t be seen by a doctor the last 2-3 months so this was very important.” But now that his cousin is here, they are finding difficulty getting the attention of a resettlement agency to provide the traditional housing, food, employment assistance and language training for incoming refugees. Kakar says despite over 100 emails and phone calls, he has not been successful in reaching Catholic Charities or the Lutheran Social Services which are designated by the American government as the official resettlement agencies.
“My cousin and his wife need support to start a new life, a place to live and help with jobs and navigating American life. I am spending hours every day contacting organizations to search for support and I have many supportive people helping me. I will not be able to continue to support their family and my own wife and three sons.” Parvez says he has found political support to be useless and has seen the financial generosity toward refugees dry up.
Letter from Melanie Gray:
Hello friends, as many of you are aware, the people remaining in Afghanistan today are facing extreme threats of violence, hunger, dehydration and death. Our Christ Church Refugee Ministry has 28 active families in Northern Virginia and over 250 family members currently in Afghanistan. Some of these families have been a part of our ministry since its inception in 2016. We have helped them establish their lives here and many consider us their American family. Many of your faith communities have hosted our community dinners and participated in our efforts in various ways through the years.
Today, our families are begging for our help. The greatest help we can give right now is to offer financial support that would enable them to send funds home that will potentially save their family members lives. Our families in our Refugee Ministry have family members who are trapped in Afghanistan. We are getting updates daily, stories of sisters being sold to the Taliban as brides, photos of family members who have been beaten, one man was shot with a bullet through his throat, another 5 year old boy had part of his arm blown off, people going from safe house to safe house, a family making it to Pakistan only to find out the Taliban is an even greater threat there. The economy in Afghanistan has collapsed and the cost of inflation has made basic needs unattainable. Their ability to survive depends on food, water, safe shelter and the ability to travel if a way to leave Afghanistan presents itself. As of yesterday the amount that can be transferred from Western Union or MoneyGram went from $200 per week to $5,000. We will not give up hope as we stand beside these families.
Our goal is to raise $39,200 by Oct. 30, 2021. This would provide $1,400 per family for November rent, thereby enabling them to send funds home.
Ways to give:
Checks payable to Christ Church, Refugee Ministry in the memo line, 118 N. Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314
Your prayers are needed.
Please share this with others who may be interested in donating or joining us.
Onward and Upward,
Melanie Gray, MSW
Director of Outreach & Mission, Christ Church Alexandria