How to Volunteer for Afghan Relief

Mark Johnson | February 15, 2022

Last month, I noticed a Facebook post that made me smile. It was written by Deborah Alexander and tells about her experience working with a newly arrived Afghan refugee here in Lexington:

So three women in a Mini Cooper are yakking away in broken English & Dari, zipping from grocery stores to Walmart to the Dollar Tree; a long-neck mop hangs out one of the rear side windows; the rear back window blocked by 120-count diaper box & bags of 16-roll toilet papers; two goat legs & another big bag of goat & sheep meat slide from the left back seat to the right, smacking the doors regularly. No, it’s not the beginning of a joke about three women who walk into a bar. Or the local Walmart. It’s my Saturday.

I hate grocery shopping. It’s one of those life tasks that I do as seldom as possible. My grocery shopping usually includes only coffee, cat litter, and pretzels. Or tortilla chips. There is no future Mr. Alexander unless he does the grocery shopping (and the dishes).

I’m also mainly a vegetarian. Well...if I’m being honest (I try), a pescatarian. In my Afghanistan days when we drove by shops with hanging animal carcasses, I’d abruptly look the other way to avoid retching violently. I still hold my nose walking by the meat department at any grocery.

So God is laughing because I find myself grocery shopping with new Afghan friends in the Bluegrass. And I’m carting around bags of freshly butchered meat. Goat legs and all.

What a sight! I wish I had happened to be stuck behind them at a red light. I know I would have been trying to grab my cell phone to take a quick picture. And while Deborah helps us all see the lite side of these challenges, the problems faced by many of our new residents, officially designated by our government as “humanitarian paroles,” are overwhelming and complicated.

The sudden and ill-prepared collapse of their home country, the burden of a global pandemic, and our country that far too often is in conflict with itself to build cooperative support have left many needy folks falling through the cracks. Two local organizations, Kentucky Refugee Ministries and the Community Response Coalition of Kentucky have been there and have stepped up in these difficult times. They are doing good work, but they need more help.

Deborah continues to volunteer with both of them and has helped me understand what is needed. We now have simple instructions on how to begin the process of helping as individuals, families, and congregations. This information, hosted on our church website, is now being offered to our ecumenical and interfaith community.

Perhaps you too would like to volunteer? I encourage you to step forward if you can. A few simple steps and you can help Lexington be an ever greater city. Just follow this link to begin. Plus, Deborah is more than happy to help you, too. She can even help you find goat legs! 

3 months


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