BUAE Needs Your Help to Meet the Challenge
by Todd Geise, Director of Marketing, JFS of Western New York
Imagine being uprooted from your homeland, and the only place you’ve ever known. Imagine being thrust into a new culture with minimal understanding of its language and customs, without an income, a structure to call home, or the certainty of receiving your next meal.
This is a reality for the tens of thousands of Afghan people who are arriving in the United States and other countries throughout the world. Many of these individuals will ultimately find their way into many of our communities. They are evacuees — people who have been evacuated from a dangerous situation to where they can be safe. They are individuals who would risk death if they were to remain in their own country. They also lack the traditional status of being considered a visitor, student, worker, or special immigrant.
Buffalo has a long history as a designated and welcoming community for refugee resettlement. It is a history that embraces diversity and the importance of helping people retain and share their unique heritage, while adjusting to our own culture. This is also true for the Afghan evacuees who will be relying upon us to help them settle into a new home.
The U.S. government has committed to providing Afghan evacuees with one full month of financial support, but it is not nearly enough. Without the benefit of proper status and social systems support, resettlement for these individuals will be more difficult. They will also likely be required to wait six to eight months before they are granted authorization to seek employment. So, in the spirit of living up to our reputation as the City of Good Neighbors, five Buffalo agencies recently joined forces to ensure the successful resettlement of 350 people from Afghan who will be depending on us. The collaboration — Buffalo United for Afghan Evacuees (BUAE) — consists of Catholic Charities, International Institute of Buffalo, Jericho Road Health Services, JFS of Western New York, and Journey’s End Refugee Services.
BUAE is now calling upon all of us to help raise the $750,000 needed for food, rent, healthcare, and other necessities over the next six to eight months. Since the campaign began on September 2, many have pledged their support. They are people who are a testament to the values of compassion and empathy that is second nature to our community, and we are grateful.
Still, there is a long way to go toward ensuring that our new neighbors receive the support they will need. It is for this reason that we are appealing to Buffalo Healthy Living readers to consider a contribution, and to imagine how we can all work together to alleviate the insecurities faced by our new Afghan neighbors. In times like these, it helps to imagine ourselves as one community, facing challenges together.
To learn more about supporting the Buffalo United for Afghan Evacuees campaign, please visit www.wnyrac.org or call 716-939-1714.