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Warmly Welcoming Those Who’ve Fled Afghanistan

IN BOTH EUROPE AND THE UNITED STATES, SAMARITAN’S PURSE IS HELPING AFGHAN FAMILIES WHO WERE QUICKLY EVACUATED FROM THEIR HOMELAND.

“Seeing our children play with toys is the first happy day we’ve had in a long time,” said the Afghan father, his eyes wistful as he watched his little ones.

This weary family was just one of countless others who experienced firsthand what most of the world only saw in shocking photos and broadcasts back in August: chaos at Kabul’s airport as tens of thousands of desperate people tried to escape as the Taliban quickly came to power.

In the early days of the crisis, Samaritan’s Purse partnered with organisations on the ground to bring hundreds of these men, women, and children to safety. We also began work at transit centres in Eastern Europe and elsewhere overseas, where Afghan evacuees crowded in by the thousands.

We’ve provided these families with supplies to assist them as they wait for a more permanent situation. Relief items have included clothing, blankets, hygiene kits, solar lamps, baby carriers, and space heaters. In addition to meeting some of these basic needs, a warm welcome and other kindnesses have gone a long way to offer them dignity and show them the love of God.

Many families have also been arriving at Fort Pickett, a military base in Virginia, where Samaritan’s Purse is at work welcoming evacuees as they enter the U.S. for the first time.

Ingrid Heres, disaster assistance response team (DART) lead for our Fort Pickett response, says our teams are engaging these suffering families at a pivotal and uncertain time.

“This military base is all they’ve seen of America so far,” Heres said. “Being able to offer them warmth and hospitality at such a critical time is having a significant impact on these families.”

Preparing for Winter and the Days Ahead

Many of the evacuees staying at Fort Pickett were working professionals back in Afghanistan — doctors, lawyers, or teachers — who now must find a way to provide for their families in a country with an unfamiliar language and customs. Samaritan’s Purse is offering ESL classes so evacuees can begin to learn English while they are staying on the base. Over 100 eager participants come to the classes each day, with men, women, and children attending. “We’re so happy to learn English and be safe,” said one ESL student.

Afghan families have been filling the military base since August, many living in World War II barracks and trailers with the few items they fled with months ago. Our teams have been busy helping them prepare for the approaching cold weather, providing more 5,200 winter clothing kits of jackets, thermals, boots, and socks. As many as 11,000 of these kits could be needed over the coming weeks.

“It will only get colder as winter months set in, and it’s vital that the evacuees have the clothing necessary to stay warm,” Heres said. “This will allow them to focus on other aspects of their journey.”

The children are missing weeks of school, and there isn’t much to occupy them on the military base. So, Samaritan’s Purse is providing them with activity books to engage their minds, and soccer balls and other recreation items to encourage play and elicit smiles. Boys and girls are beginning to laugh again after weeks of clinging to their parents with uncertainty clouding their faces.

One of our staff members told the story of an Afghan man who shared how much the presence of Samaritan’s Purse had meant to him. He and his family had been at Fort Pickett for over a month and had encountered many different organisations during their journey as evacuees.

Though each of the groups had offered assistance, his interaction with Samaritan’s Purse was especially meaningful. He had noticed that there was something different about the way we treated his family, playing with his children and simply sharing a smile when greeting him throughout the day. “I see the love in your eyes,” he said.

One woman told our staff that the sight of friendly faces at the end of a long journey gave her hope that the worst was behind and that there was hope for the future of her family. “Thank you to Samaritan’s Purse for being here,” she said.

Please continue praying for these families that the Lord would guide their steps and help them see His love for them. Pray also for our teams serving at various locations along their journey — for His protection and for opportunities to bring His hope into dark moments.

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When disasters strike, Samaritan’s Purse responds quickly to bring relief to people in need. Your gift today can help us provide a lifeline to a family that has lost everything, to help them get back on their feet.

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