Massachusetts is expecting to receive around 1,100 Afghans and the agencies are overwhelmed and asking for the assistance of churches and the Christian community. How will the Church in our region and across the U.S. respond to this tremendous need and opportunity?
One response locally comes from Kataluma, a faith-based org that is seeking to help churches rise to the occasion in serving these incoming Afghans. Kataluma is partnering with the Refugee & Immigrant Assistance Center (RIAC), one of the local resettlement agencies that is responsible for managing the resettlement process.
Here are four ways churches and individuals can help in the coming days:
1) Host homes or creative housing space: The rate of arrivals is too fast for resettlement agencies to find enough apartments. They are looking for temporary hosts who can provide a soft landing for an Afghan family for 2-3 months, but in some cases this may be as long as 6 months.
- Host homes need to be near public transportation
- Creative space such as parsonages, in-law apartments, donated apartments or houses, etc. are also being sought
- Kataluma, is seeking to raise up 15 host homes from local churches. Hosts will participate in an orientation, receive weekly check-ins from Kataluma and/or RIAC staff, participate in monthly gatherings with cohort members for prayer, reflection, learning and support.
- If you are in the Boston area and are interested in learning more about offering your household as a host home or you have access to other creative space, please complete the volunteer interest form to let us know of your interest in finding out more information.
2) Donating essential goods: The new Afghan evacuees have far less material resources than previous refugee entrants so will initially be in need of a lot of donated support.
- For NOW, the most useful in-kind gifts are: grocery store gift cards, drug store gift cards, public transportation gift cards, and Target gift cards. Gift cards may be hand delivered to me or mailed to: Emmanuel Gospel Center, PO Box 240017, Dorchester, MA 02124, ATT: Gregg Detwiler
- In the COMING MONTHS we may launch drives for items such as: diapers, feminine hygiene products, cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, disinfectant wipes, bathing supplies, house slippers/bathrobe, sheets, blankets, pillows, school supplies, backpacks, toys, games, shoes, coats. We are NOT ready to receive these items yet but will let you know when we need them in the coming weeks and months.
- If you are interested in donating essential goods please complete the volunteer interest form.
3) Other volunteering opportunities
- Other needs will emerge, such as food distribution, limited transportation needs, etc.
- Supporting families with friendship and helping connect them to other resources they may need as they seek to make their way in a new community and culture.
- If you are interested in joining our volunteer pool to support incoming families please complete the volunteer interest form.
4) Financial contributions: There are a lot of needs here, but I will limit this particular ask to one:
- Kataluma Refugee Hospitality is stepping up to do their part to respond to this urgent need in a variety of ways, including mobilizing the Christian community with: host home recruitment & support; food, transportation, and other volunteer support; cultural assistance and friendship. You can give to to Kataluma online here. Your gifts will be used in both direct assistance to Afghan families and to help us supporting our staff to do this work.
We also encourage you to watch this video below, where Gary Moorehead, founding Director of Kataluma, and Gregg Detwiler, Intercultural Ministries Consultant, are interviewed by Brandt Gillespie of Congregation Lion of Judah about the incoming wave of Afghan refugees. You can hear Gary share his previous experience rebuilding homes for returning Afghans, Paul Jehle sharing about the inter-church collaboration that is happening at this time, as well as ways that you and your community can pray.