Hello Faith Lutheran!
On behalf of the Circle of Welcome team, we would like to give you an update on what’s been happening with our Afghan refugee family. Due to terms of privacy set forth by Lutheran Social Services, we are unable to share pictures or names with you at this time so we will refer to them as the M family.
Our family moved into their home in mid January and along with help from the Circle of Welcome team, have been making some progress in establishing a new life for themselves here. They are fortunate to share a four plex apartment building with 3 other Afghan refugee families. They are extremely grateful for the guidance and support we have been able to offer them and for that we thank you as a congregation for making it possible for us to walk alongside them. There have been successes and challenges along the way for the family as well as the C of W team.
Mr. M was able to secure a job in early February. He works nights and is able to take the bus along with 2 other men from their apartment building. Two of the children are in school in Minneapolis and up until the school strike, had been making good progress with their English skills. They have been enjoying school and are eager to get back and their parents are just as eager to have them go back. Mrs. M is always so hospitable when we visit. Always bringing us tea and small snacks for us to share together. She loves to sew and with the help of a Faith member, now has a new sewing machine and some fabric. The C of W team has been able to take them shopping a few times. They were so excited to be able to shop at a local Halal market for things that were familiar to them. One team member said “they were like kids in a candy shop.” Their 4 children are always a highlight for anyone who visits. They are so excited to see us and are always very affectionate. They are fascinated with our phones whenever we have to use them!
While there are many good things happening, this process hasn’t come without challenges. One of the biggest challenges we face is the language barrier. Not only do they not speak English but they are illiterate in their own native language so we can’t use translation apps nor do we have interpreters available to us, which causes things to move a bit slowly. We are still struggling with opening a bank account for them, helping them understand how to pay bills, how to make doctor appointments and how insurance works. These are the kinds of things that people who have lived here their whole lives sometimes struggle to understand, so teaching them about it has proven difficult. We have learned to become creative in our ways of communicating and are extremely fortunate and grateful for their 16-year Afghan refugee neighbor who does speak English. He has been so helpful in ways that are beyond his years. He has helped with discussions ranging from what type of clothing Mrs. M prefers, to things that involve finances and employment. He really is an amazing young man and has told us that “he is proud to be able to help his countrymen this way.”
Overall, the M family is trying to keep up hope that things will get easier for them. They have expressed to us that life was hard in Afghanistan and now it is hard here. We try our best to listen and encourage them to keep going. Please keep them and the C of W team in your prayers as we try to help them move forward and overcome some of the big hurdles that they are up against right now. We would like to extend a huge thank you to all of the congregation members that donated money and or donated/purchased items for the family. Thank you again for all of your prayers and support!
The Faith Lutheran Circle of Welcome Team