Afghan Refugees

While CIOGC, Arab American Family Services, Zakat Foundation, and Muslim Women Resource Center are each obligated to resettle 100 Afghans, the Illinois Department of Human Services and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency continue to negotiate the schedule for the arrival of those Afghans with Department of Homeland Security and the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

To afford us additional time to prepare for these tasks, those federal and state agencies responsible for these Afghan families are limiting the number of arrivals coming at one time. What we know now is that eight Afghan refugee families are slated to arrive this week in the Chicago area. The initial eight families will be assigned to Arab American Family Services, and we have been told that additional families will be assigned and come to Chicago over a period of at least one (1) month. The timeline will likely be defined by our collective ability to resettle families that have arrived.

Once we are given our initial assignment of Afghan families, the Illinois Department of Human Services will then require us to execute a contract as a resettlement agency. This is an reimbursement contract, requiring us to seek reimbursement for expenses incurred.

Regardless of which agency is responsible, each of these families will need basic life necessities: food, housing, and clothing. These families will need help with transportation to and from appointments with physicians and government agencies, to acclimate them to cultural practices in the United States, and to identify employment opportunities for family members.

To support these families, we need:

1. We need members of your masjid to volunteer. The needs of the families will be varied and plentiful. To adequately respond, we will need volunteers who can offer a limited time commitment to provide transportation, to tutor, or to assist completing basic paperwork like a driver’s license application. You can register as a volunteer here.

2. Housing poses two problems: (1) how to locate suitable housing for the size of the family and (2) financial support to pay the rent. Adult members of these families are coming without jobs, without any savings, and, for some, job skills that would qualify them for those employment opportunities that exist. Our ask is for your community to provide housing.

3. Household Donations. Each housing unit for the families will need to be furnished with basic household items: Stove, refrigerator, tables, beds, and dressers. Also, clothing is needed, particularly winter clothing right now. We also need a place to receive and disburse these donations.

4. Donations from available food pantries are needed to initially supply a family and sustain that family until they become self-sufficient.

Thank you for how you have supported this humanitarian cause, and we pray for your continued support for these families. You can read more about this initiative here.