FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Johann Huleatt
February 17, 2022 firstname.lastname@example.org
IT TAKES A VILLAGE – AND ACTIVE CHURCHES – TO WELCOME REFUGEES
KINGSTON, NY – This weekend, Kingston locals will raise money to support locally-settled Afghan refugees. On Sunday, February 20th, from 2 to 4 pm, several families from The Bruderhof, a local Christian church community, will be “skating for a cause” on behalf of Rosendale 4 Refugees, as part of the First Annual President’s Day Winterfest at Ole Savannah at the Rondout in Kingston.
On January 11 and 12, two Afghan families arrived in Esopus and Rosedale. The couples have four young children each, and their stories are similar: they fled their rural homeland when the United States military abruptly pulled out of Afghanistan in late summer, leaving the Taliban in control. Speaking through a translator this week, the father of one of the families, whose name is being withheld for his and his family’s protection, said: “I consider my family to be blessed to have made it out of Afghanistan. My wife, four young sons, and I have witnessed mass killings of over 200 men and young boys in our hometown conducted by Taliban soldiers; the motives for such attacks are to create fear and serve as reprisals for what the Taliban considered to be cooperation with the American enemy.”
The two families that arrived last month are temporarily being hosted rent-free in homes provided by the Bruderhof. During the Second World War, the Bruderhof themselves were refugees, as they fled from the Third Reich. Since settling in several communities in Upstate New York after the war, it has been consistently concerned with helping others who find themselves in similar circumstances, from the Vietnamese Boat People of the late 1970s, to refugees from the Balkan wars of the 1990’s and more recently the displaced people and war refugee from Syria, Iraq, and the Middle East.
These twelve people, and tens of thousands of others for whom a Taliban-led regime was dangerous, boarded humanitarian flights and headed to the US or to other countries, hoping not to be turned away. The group of refugees which included these two families arrived in the United States in early Fall. They were screened and given temporary housing at one of several military bases. Not since the end of the Vietnam war in the late 1970s has the United States been called on to mobilize to this degree to resettle war refugees. The federal Afghan resettlement process has been opaque and slow; without national faith-based organizations such as World Relief and Samaritan’s purse, and grassroots networks such as New Paltz 4 Refugees and Refugee and Immigrant Support Services of Emmaus (RISSE) in Albany, which are able to move more nimbly, this process of welcome, hosting, and resettling would be a nearly insurmountable task.
On September 30, 2021 President Biden signed a resolution designating Afghan refugee families as humanitarian parolees eligible to apply for social services such as Medicaid and Snap. These two families’ eligibility was confirmed by the Ulster County Department of Social Services. The Kingston City School District has welcomed the school-age children as students, and the two fathers are gainfully employed.
This Sunday, stop by, enjoy the Winterfest, learn more about Rosendale 4 Refugees, and support our skaters as they raise money for these two families – or please make an on-line donation here.