Give Back NH: Afghan evacuation and relocation one year later
Give Back New Hampshire is a bi-weekly segment that spotlights New Hampshire nonprofit organizations. It airs every other Monday during Morning Edition.
You can nominate a local nonprofit for Give Back NH by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It's been just over a year since U.S. forces pulled out of Afghanistan, and the Taliban re-established control over the country. Since then, well over 100,000 refugees have been evacuated, and relocated to the United States. A few hundred Afghans now call Manchester home.
For this week's Give Back New Hampshire segment, we take a look at the International Institute of New England, one of the organizations tasked with welcoming these and many other new-comers to the region: helping families find housing, job training, and community.
The following is a transcription:
Alexander Weber (Chief Advancement Officer and Senior Vice President): I've been at the organization for 14 years, and have actually never seen something like this past year— where we were asked to respond as a community, and as an organization to an evacuation.
My name is Alexandra Weber, and I am the senior vice president and chief advancement officer at the International Institute of New England.
It was August last year that Afghanistan was taken over by the Taliban, and the U.S. put together a whole plan to evacuate about 100,000 people, and those people were moved into U.S. communities.
And Manchester has been one of those communities where we really, as a state, have taken on a great humanitarian role in being able to welcome people and get them started here.
Henry Harris (Managing Director, Manchester):
For us, it actually started the week of Thanksgiving. We received 81 Afghans within a few day period. You know, we set families up in hotels, and triage cases from there, and then tried to do our best to find housing. And for many, you know, it took several months.
Weber: Right now, it's really a stage of adjustment. And I would say it takes people usually at least a year to get their bearings, to get into the public schools, to get a little bit of English, to get a first job, to really start to understand our communities and really kind of get connected.
But particularly the Manchester community has been incredible. We don't do our work alone. The community we reach out to the community to, to connect and to provide all types of services, and supports that we could never imagine doing alone.
Harris: There's really no limit to what you can do as a volunteer. You can get involved in, you know, the driving to medical appointments is very— we have a lot of requests for that. You can help attend school meetings. We have, you know, a cooking class that meets, and we have a lot of volunteers that just raise gift cards for us. Gift cards are a lifeline for when there's crisis. And there's times where we're like, 'Ooh, this family just needs to put food on the table this week. Then they're okay. They're going to be great for a while.' So we've got a little flexibility with with gift cards, and things like that.
Weber: If you or your community— or your faith group— is interested in sponsoring a refugee family, we have that opportunity available.
We are actually piloting about ten different community and refugee family pairings this year, where we're going to take people through a whole training, and provide the community group a lot of support —and hoping to make really intense community connections with refugee families, but also to get them that much more support for the beginning of their life here.
Harris: There's always going to be some crisis in the world and people are going to need, you know, some help.