Afghan Families Backpack Assembly

Afghan Families Backpack Assembly

Saturday, August 6

10:00am-Noon in Johnson Hall

Two hundred Afghan children are headed back to school! Let’s help them start the year fully stocked with a new backpack, school supplies, and sneakers. St. George’s volunteers are needed to help stuff backpacks with school supplies and sneakers from 10:00am-Noon. At Noon, volunteers are needed to deliver the backpacks to 3-4 households (routes will be 1-1/2 hours). Families with children are welcome to volunteer.

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About our Support of Afghan Families in Nashville

A core team of 8 volunteers from St. George’s has completed all training and requirements through Nashville International Center for Empowerment (NICE) and is working with an Afghan family in Nashville. While direct contact with the family will be limited to these core volunteers, we hope to provide periodic updates so the church can join this work through the transformational power of prayer.

St. George’s has been partnered with a family of 6—two parents and four children.  Three girls are working young adults and there is a 15-year-old boy in high school. The father will also be working while the mother maintains the household.

Updates from the Core Volunteer Team

Update from June 2022

Nashville Public Television's (NPT) award-winning Next Door Neighbor Series looks at Nashville’s status as a new destination city for refugees and immigrants and explores the rich diversity of people now calling Nashville home. "Peace of Mind" is airing on NPT on Tuesday, June 28, at 7:30pm and will feature a member of the Afghan family sponsored by St. George’s. We invite you to watch the show and to continue your prayers for these brave and resilient people.

Update from May 2022

We are now approaching the halfway point in our mission commitment for our Afghan family. Our core team of eight has experienced incredible feelings of God’s love as we have ministered to the needs of this family. They arrived in Nashville in February with a few bags of personal belongings, and we welcomed them. They invited us into their temporary Airbnb housing, and warmly and graciously offered us a cup of tea.

While they awaited permanent housing that was to be secured by NICE (Nashville International Center for Empowerment), four of the six family members were blessed with getting jobs at a manufacturer in the Nashville area. The 15-year-old boy was enrolled in school and Mom stayed at home. Within a short time, a two-bedroom apartment was made available to them.  Community Resource Center delivered very basic household items, and Tennessee Resettlement Agency provided a month’s supply of food.  Our St. George’s Team began our mission of helping them make this living space into a home and acclimating them to our American cultural norms and idiosyncrasies.

The family has been very motivated to save money for a car by working seven days a week on second shift, so most of our support activities must take place in the morning. In addition to finding furnishings for their home, ESL class meets one morning a week under the able tutelage of Rosemary Kew with her helpers. Others provide transportation to medical appointments, assist with opening bank accounts, and introduce them to grocery shopping, Walmart and ThriftSmart!

In preparation for buying a car, getting a driver’s license was at the top of the ‘to do’ list.  The 23-year-old daughter successfully passed her test, and the family was able to purchase a car on their own. Although one daughter speaks quite good English, concerns for the more complicated issues of auto inspection, safety, and insurance needed some time with a Dari interpreter. This also provided an opportunity for us to explain our sponsorship role more fully; of offering support and guidance through some of the complicated systems such as healthcare; and as needed, to explain some laws and challenges in this country.  Above all, we were able to share how much we value our budding friendship. 

As we plan for the next phase of our mission, our team will continue to focus on:

  1. Education: ESL and options for higher education
  2. Medical/Health: Assist with medical insurance issues as they are transition out of TNCare/Medicare.
  3. Immigration: Assist as needed as the family applies for asylum.
  4. Continue cultural acclimation and community-building: Take them on tours, a drive on the Natchez Trace, go to a soccer game or other sports events, music venues, etc.

We want to share our joy in knowing this family and look forward to introducing them to St. George’s. Until then, please continue your prayers for them – they are working!  

The father spoke for the family in thanking us for all we have done for them and they are truly grateful. His wife added: “I prayed to God for help for our family and I thank God for all of you.”

Update from March 11, 2022

The family has officially moved into permanent housing—thanks for your prayers!

Update from March 9, 2022

The family currently lives in temporary housing until a permanent residence can be established for them. Each individual's understanding and comfort with English varies, so a primary effort will be helping them learn the language.

How can you help?

Most of all, we ask for your prayers for the family as they adjust to life in Tennessee with a new language and culture. Please pray that we find ways to ease that transition in a caring and loving manner. As more information becomes available, we will share ways in which the parish can contribute and be involved in this ministry.

This relationship with NICE is part of a more dynamic approach to serving Afghans in our community. Thanks to those who participated in our donation drives, volunteer opportunities, and made financial contributions toward this important work this spring. This family is being served by our core volunteers, who have been specially trained by NICE: Bennie Batson, Susie Callen, Sue Fisher, Karlen Garrard, Rosemary Kew, Funmi Odidi, Bonnie Gruetzmacher, and John Gruetzmacher.

 

Next Steps

Are you ready to get involved? There are excellent organizations providing goods and services for Afghan refugees in Nashville, and we encourage you to learn more about and participate in their ministries.

Learn More

Questions? Please contact Agatha Nolen, Director of Outreach, at 615-385-2150 x 246 or agatha.nolen@stgeorgesnashville.org.