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Plymouth UCC welcomes Afghan family of eight

The Immigrant Committee of Plymouth UCC Seattle started efforts to resettle an Afghani family in August and finally received a family Feb. 14 through Viets for Afghans.

Volunteers found sewing machine used by Irish immigrant. Photo courtesy of Vicki Schoettle

Carol Mooney, co-chair of the committee with Vicki Schoettle, said they had planned to work through World Relief until a new employee in Spokane was rejected by the national office because he was gay.

Viets for Afghans is a volunteer coalition mobilizing the Vietnamese community in Washington state because they relate to the trauma of Afghans fleeing after the U.S. military pulled out of their country and doors opened to resettle in the United States. The coalition has settled eight families in the Seattle area.

Plymouth is welcoming a family of eight—two parents with six children.

Viets for Afghans has suggestions for how to help families resettle in the first, second and third months.

Plymouth has connected with University Congregational UCC and Fauntleroy UCC in Seattle, which are also resettling families.

“We began talking with each other as the national UCC was encouraging churches help resettle Afghans,” Carol said. “We are also connecting with Aneelah Afzali with the Muslim Association of Puget Sound.

Plymouth formed a Welcoming Circle to divide responsibilities for legal work, settling children in schools, involving parents in English classes, dealing with medical and insurance issues, finding housing and jobs.

“The father and two elementary age children speak some English, but the middle school girls, two preschoolers and mother speak no English,” Carol said.

Because the federal government requires that refugees receive $2,275 per person, Plymouth has worked to raise funds from the Plymouth Community Action Board funds.

The temporary housing where they are staying is furnished, but the church is also seeking donations of funds and furniture for when they move into permanent housing. Families also receive food from food banks and the school.

Vicki added that they have a car donated and are helping them get drivers licenses and find housing.

“It’s an honor to be part of the group helping them. They are incredible people working through a great deal,” Carol said.

She is also impressed and inspired by working with this Muslim family for whom prayer is part of each day, rising early to pray and praying many times in the day.

“I am humbled by the challenge they face in learning English, which has a different alphabet. Sometimes I’m trapped in my own world and don’t realize how blessed I am,” said Carol, who has attended Plymouth for 30 years and appreciates its focus on social justice work.

Having served in the Peace Corps in Togo and having visited Uganda, Nicaragua, China and Mexico, she is likes working with people of other cultures and is aware that “much of our world just needs fairness.”

Vicki said the committee were told that Afghan women need sewing machines. She had planned to donate an old one she had, but it was broken.

Then she learned through Viets for Afghans that someone had a sewing machine to donate.”

“When I went to pick it up, I found that the antique sewing machine was used by the woman’s great-grandmother, who immigrated from Ireland. It had been used by every generation in the family,” she said. “They wanted to give it to a refugee family.”

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Pacific NW Conference United Church News - © April 2022


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