Update: Afghan Families Project
March 27th, 2023: Thank you to our volunteers for rallying together to help our Afghan neighbors fill out legal documents and watch their children during this time.
Each volunteer was paired with one Afghan applicant, and together, they walked through forms alongside an immigration attorney and a translator.
Over the two days, 19 legal writers and 12 childcare volunteers showed up to help and give their time to assist those in our community, and 36 Afghan adults completed the necessary forms with help from their one-on-one volunteers.
Thank you to the caseworkers, Teresa Hollarn, Sarah Murray, and Joani Whitley for their tireless efforts before, during and after the workshops; Niamatullah "Rocky" Abul Rauf for translating (without which this could not have been done); DHS for additional funds; and Attorney Jesse Gordon for leading workshops at a discounted rate.
Since the fall of 2021, Oklahoma State University has partnered with Catholic Charities of Eastern Oklahoma (CCEOK) to welcome Afghan evacuees to Stillwater. As of April 07, 2023, the initial resettlement process has largely been accomplished. Some of the significant ways in which OSU has contributed to this effort include:
in Stillwater have full time employment and three have part time jobs.
have enrolled at OSU and one Afghan student moved here to study.
- 70 Afghan evacuees have now settled in Stillwater, with many in OSU’s student housing.
- The English Language and Intercultural Center created the “Compassionate Afghan Resettlement and English Services Program (CARES). This program offers 9 hours of intensive English Instruction per week to adults, with three different courses focused on English Fundamentals, English for Cultural Integration, and English for Occupational Purposes. In addition to formal English instruction, the program also includes one-on-one tutoring and a Conversation Partners program, which pairs the new arrivals with Stillwater citizens who help to develop English for meeting everyday needs. While adults are actively learning, the Center provides early-learner childcare. The Center also partners with Meridian Technology to help Afghans interested in the trades or earning a high school diploma.
- ELIC has also partnered with Stillwater Public Schools, to provide a space and programming to allow children to transition into local schools.
- The Wes Watkins Center has served as the hub for the overall project, providing temporary office space to CCEOK staff for office hours, hosting legal screenings, eye clinics, and other events to facilitate their integration into Stillwater
- OSU Transportation services provides access to the campus transportation network, allowing them to come to campus for English classes and to get to their jobs throughout the city.
- The OSU Foundation and OSU Global has created a scholarship account to develop a scholarship fund for Afghan students to continue their studies, which were interrupted by the downfall of the Afghan government, at OSU. To donate: https://secure.osugiving.com/s/giving/major?dsgt=20-66260
- The entire OSU community, including students, retirees, faculty, staff, have contributed by assisting in ongoing efforts as well, as both formal CCEOK volunteers and others.
Ways to Assist:
Although the initial resettlement effort has largely ended, there will be many ongoing needs with which the OSU and Stillwater communities can contribute. Our goal is to ensure that is possible to enable our new neighbors to succeed and thrive in their new community. Some of the specific needs that still exist include:
- Contributions to the OSU Afghan Scholarship Fund: Many of the new arrivals had their educations interrupted, and desire nothing more than to continue their education at Oklahoma State University. While the university is doing all that we can to assist their efforts, contributions to a scholarship account, in any amount, would allow these new neighbors to attain the education that will allow them to thrive and become assets to our community. If you would like to make a contribution to this fund, please contact Courtney MacNelly at the OSU Foundation at (email address) or make your donation here: https://secure.osugiving.com/s/giving/major?dsgt=20-66260
- Conversation Partners and One-on-one Tutoring: On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, the ELIC relies upon community volunteers to explore the English language through topics such as driving, banking, goal setting, and more!. Come and help our new neighbors learn English! The link to volunteer is located on the homepage.
- Job placement. All of our new neighbors have authorization to work in the US, and are either English-capable or learning English now. Many of them need to earn additional funding to help to provide for their families here, but also family members who remain in Afghanistan. If you are aware of potential jobs, email us here: email@example.com.
- Other miscellaneous needs: Although the immediate needs are largely met, the families who have moved to Stillwater continue to have ongoing needs as they rebuild their lives. Bicycles, used cars, rugs for their homes, all of these expensive things are out of the reach of many of our neighbors. If you have suggested donations, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.