October 13, 2021

Afghan Refugee Help

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With the rest of the country, I watched the events related to the withdrawal of American and allied troops from Afghanistan with a mixture of horror, anger, and hope.  I wondered if there was something I, or perhaps we as a church could do to help, especially to support those Afghans who had risked their lives to support our soldiers.  Other than prayer there didn’t seem much that could be done.

As the situation has stabilized somewhat, I found that the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) has been working with international organizations in Afghanistan to support educational efforts, and efforts to build up the economy.  Even though American and other soldiers have left, the work is continuing, and UMCOR is continuing to work in those areas and is also involved in helping to provide food assistance during the turmoil.  I have donated to that work.  If anyone else would like to do so, they can write a check to the church designating it for UMCOR, and we will pass it on or you can go to advance.umcor.org and donate directly (you can indicate our church if you like so your gift will also be part of our church’s support.

Then it was announced that many of the refugees would be temporarily settled at Fort Bliss and Holloman Air Force Base.  These are people who were able to bring almost nothing with them, and are starting over completely.  The United Methodist Churches in southern New Mexico and West Texas have stepped up.  The Churches in El Paso and Las Cruces are working to collect goods and money to help those at Fort Bliss (who are actually on the New Mexico portion of the Base near Chaparral).  Grace UMC in Alamogordo is coordinating much of the work at Holloman.  Money can be donated to help each of these efforts, again donate it to AUMC designated for Afghan Refugees, and we can forward it to those who need it.

I had originally thought it would be good if we could sponsor a refugee family in our area, as a more tangible way to help.  But they are asking for places to resettle people only within one hundred miles of Albuquerque or Las Cruces.  These are the only two places in New Mexico that have mosques (well there is one in Abiquiu, but that is a retreat and conference center, not a regular place of worship.)

If you do want to help with more than just money, Bill Noland has volunteered to take donated items to  Alamogordo.  They are still collecting these items:

    1. New only Diapers, Formula, Bottles, Baby Wipes, Feminine Hygiene Products (sanitary napkins/pads only, NO tampons).
    2. New only Laundry detergent and fabric softener.
    3. Toys and stuffed animals (new or gently used/cleaned only)
    4. New only Baby Items: clothing, blankets, baby lotions, etc.
    5. New only Personal hygiene items for men, women, and children: soap, body lotion, shampoo, toothbrushes and toothpaste.
    6. Clothing for women: long sleeve tops, long skirts, scarves that can cover head and hair.  New or gently used/cleaned
    7. New underwear for men, women, and children.

We would ask that if you want to donate any of these items you would bring them to the church by October 15.

But above all please keep these refugees, and the Afghans and other nationals who stayed behind in your prayers.