If you’re looking how to help Afghan refugees, you should know about the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, which resettles refugees and asylees in the United States. It also offers culturally-based resettlement support and education to help them become self-sufficient and socially integrated into their new country.
As Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains’ volunteer and community engagement coordinator, Mary Feeney Francis has seen Denver area congregations step up to support Afghan allies as they arrive in the U.S. She hopes members will help foster relationships with their new neighbors through peace.
Help Refugees Find Housing
For many Afghan refugees, getting a permanent place to live is the biggest challenge. Resettlement agencies have rushed to accommodate thousands of Afghan refugees across the country. Still, high housing costs and a shortage of affordable units have made it hard for refugee families to find stable places.
Resettlement agency representatives and advocacy groups are working to help Afghan refugees stay in their homes for as long as possible. For example, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, one of the largest faith-based organizations in the U.S. that helps resettle refugees, is partnering with local nonprofits to offer rental assistance for up to 12 months for tenants behind on rent payments.
According to the state’s resettlement plan, as many as 600 Afghans in Minnesota may be in danger of becoming homeless if they cannot afford their rent after six months. In response to this concern, rental assistance organizations like ZACAH work with resettlement agencies and landlords to keep families housed if they cannot pay their rent.
Help Refugees Learn English
Founded in 1939, the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service have helped more than 379,000 refugees resettle in the United States. The organization works in partnership with Lutheran congregations and social ministry organizations to welcome newcomers and support their journey of acculturation to life in the U.S.
Among the most important ways to help refugees is to provide language support. Without a clear grasp of English, many refugees find it difficult to start work, meet their neighbors, or truly integrate into their new communities.
Teachers can play a crucial role in helping refugees settle into their new homes and schools. They can set up lunch clubs or after-school groups for refugee children to learn together or draw on their local refugee community for extra help.
A few schools have developed a “buddy system” for refugee children to make them feel comfortable in their classrooms and provide additional academic support. This is particularly useful for older students, who might not know their classmates and may need extra help with homework.
Help Refugees Find Jobs
For decades, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) has resettled refugees in the United States. Founded in 1939, LIRS has helped over 500,000 refugees find a new home.
Finding jobs can be challenging for people forced to flee their countries. They often need more education or experience, and many need help understanding the American job market.
To help these people gain the skills and experience they need to thrive in the American workforce, LIRS offers a program called New American Pathways (NAP).
NAP provides clients with specific work readiness skills like resume building, interviewing, and basic English training. Still, it also connects them with educational opportunities, apprenticeships, vocational English lessons, and other support services.
Aside from getting the skills they need to get a job, some employers have found that hiring refugees can lead to higher retention rates. Employees who have been displaced tend to feel grateful for the opportunity to work and have more appreciation for their employer.
Help Refugees Get Social
As one of the nine refugee resettlement agencies working with the United States Department of State, the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) helps resettle refugees build their new lives. Since 1939, LIRS has helped 500,000 people, including those displaced from Germany following World War II, Eastern Europeans fleeing Communist Hungary, Cuban exiles, and others in conflict.
The organization is committed to welcoming the stranger in Jesus’ name. It provides services for resettling refugee families and offers long-term community engagement support.
Many Afghans will enter the United States under a Special Immigrant Visa, given to Iraqi or Afghan nationals who work for the U.S. Armed Forces as interpreters or contractors or have worked for an allied foreign government in Afghanistan or Iraq.
SIV holders are eligible for the same refugee resettlement benefits as refugees for eight months. Then they can transition to lawful permanent residents, leading to citizenship after five years. If you have questions about the influx of SIVs, contact your local Congressperson or their staff.