From the Director’s Desk…
Our lunch gathering at the Raindrop Turkish House (with many thanks to ISAA Board Member Mehmet Oguz and others for graciously hosting) gave you the opportunity to learn about ISAA’s partnership with Culturingua in establishing Communities of Welcome for Afghan Refugees. Both non-profits are part of the larger Afghan Refugee Response Collaboration spearheaded by the City of San Antonio. Many organizations are working together to best meet the overwhelming needs faced by the 2500+ Afghans who were sent to San Antonio to resettle in the past six months.
On March 26 ISAA and Culturingua co-hosted a Resource Fair for our Afghan neighbors at Raymond Russell Park. 39 organizations and congregations of multiple faith traditions all united in care for the refugees, distributing food, providing health screenings, vaccines, and helpful information. Additionally, there were games, activities, and a community potluck!
There was a moment when I paused to look around a circle of conversation I was in to appreciate that a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Catholic nun, and a Protestant pastor were happily sharing. The needs of the refugees are immense, but we are making a difference through our unified effort.
Michele Brinkley of Celebration Circle shared this report after one week into their caring relationship as a Community of Welcome for an Afghan family.
“Today I’m taking Mr. R to meet his new boss. We got him a good job!!!!
We had a lovely dinner with our Afghan family on 3/20/22 and sent them home with lots of food. They are in a desperate situation. No promised benefits have kicked in, so they are hungry and have no money. No food stamps or Medicaid. Not enough clothing or shoes. And on and on. Mr. R has borrowed money from friends.
We are taking Mr. R to the Food Bank today and then to an Afghan halal market and H E B to stock them up. Their needs are immediate.Friends are splitting costs with us.
The children are very affectionate, and one said, “America good!” I’m not sure Mom and Dad feel the same, but they are also very loving and extremely grateful and humble and emotional.
There’s a GM at a car dealer who was in special forces in Afghanistan and is committed to taking care of this family and is giving Mr. R a job. He will provide transportation because it’s quite a distance. He will pay $16/hr. I’m taking Mr. R there tomorrow to check it out. He will likely start on Friday.
Meanwhile, our community has responded in so many ways. It’s overwhelming. Getting the word out to our compassionate friends and neighbors has proven to be fruitful.”
Many thanks to Celebration Circle, Laurel Heights United Methodist Church, the Jewish Community (combined effort), Episcopal Church of Reconciliation, Raindrop Foundation (Muslim), Crossroads Church (PCUSA), University of the Incarnate Word, and Accenture for embracing individual families as they settle into life in San Antonio.
Other faith communities such as the Muslim Cultural Heritage Society, Faith Church and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints have helped make our community events possible through their faithful volunteers and we are so very grateful.
WE ARE BETTER TOGETHER!
Rev. Wyndee E. Holbrook
ISAA Executive Director