When Kabul fell into the hands of the Taliban earlier this year, 5,000 Afghan refugees relocated to a U.S. military base on the East Coast.
Through a series of phone calls, the pastor of Pillar Church of Dumfries began searching for ways to help new refugees adjust to life in their new home country.
As Marine wife Sarah Parker* knew the base culture and felt called to minister to Afghan families displaced by the fighting. Just four days after her pastor’s call, Sarah was named Send Relief’s new relief worker coordinator on base.
As families wait to be processed, Send Relief is helping host daily activities for children that include sports, games, songs, ESL classes and crafts.
“The goal is to go in and love on these kids who have been through so much trauma and transition in a short period of time. We want to set them up for success in the American education system, while reminding them that they are children who can still play and have fun despite what they’ve been through,” Parker shared.
Many of these children and families have loved ones who are stuck in Afghanistan and unable to communicate with them. The weight of not knowing which friends and family members survived is a heavy burden to carry while acclimating to a new culture.
Parker commented, “Every agency on base has been building the plane as it’s in the air. The rules keep changing, so we’re all being very fluid with the structure, but this is our mission field.”
On base, Parker befriended three teenage girls who spoke very little English but were eager to learn. One teen tried to talk about her home and the pain of leaving but was too overcome with emotion to get the words out. As she cried, Parker encouraged her to keep talking about her feelings and practicing her English.
“I keep thinking about how these girls wouldn’t have opportunities to get an education if they had stayed in Afghanistan. I keep thinking about what their lives would have been like had this tragedy not happened and what I can do to help make this experience a little better,” said Parker.
Thank you for helping Afghan refugees feel welcomed in their new country. Please pray that those who can’t leave the country or reunite with their families would find a Peace that passes all understanding.
*Name changed for security.
Published December 2, 2021