Volunteers work to help Afghan refugees begin new life in Dartmouth
When the Taliban took control of Afghanistan this past August, St. Peter’s Episcopal parishioner Martin Costa knew he needed to offer his help to any of the refugees that were to be resettled on the South Coast.
When a young family of six arrived in South Dartmouth in December, he and fellow church volunteers quickly got started gathering necessities to ensure they felt welcome in their new home.
“They’re our neighbors,” Costa said. “And this is what our work in the church is all about: helping your neighbor.”
Nearly a month after first settling in town, Costa said the family, which includes three boys and an infant, is beginning to get used to life in a new land.
“They’re so happy to be here in safety,” Costa said.
He noted that the father of the family has already started a part-time job at a restaurant on Route 6 and that the sons have been very eager to shovel snow and pursue other odd jobs around town.
Family members are also beginning to take English language classes, while the boys get ready to enter the area’s school system.
Since the family left most of their possessions behind in Afghanistan, volunteers at St. Peter’s are currently collecting donations to help the young family start their new lives in this new environment.
The main donations volunteers are hoping to gather are clothing, backpacks, and wallets for the three boys.
Volunteers also are requesting gift cards to area shops while the family works on saving money and opening a bank account.
“This way they can learn our transactions — it’s important they be part of that process and we do not do it for them,” Costa said. “It’s going to take some time to get used to these things, but they’re quick learners.”
Church volunteers are also asking residents to chip in to help drive family members around since the father is working on obtaining his drivers license.
“All things we as Americans just kind of take for granted,” Costa said.
Most of these requests are made by the volunteers. Costa noted that any time the family is asked if they want anything, the mother and father typically respond with “no.”
“That’s how humble they are,” he said. “They’re just happy to have what they have.”
The only commodity the family requests, Costa said, are rugs.
“[The family] puts rugs all over the area and they need rugs for when they pray,” he said.
What volunteers hope to secure for the family is long-term housing in the area. According to Costa, the refugees are only able to stay in their host family’s home for six months
As the family adjusts to their new home, Costa said he and fellow volunteers are happy to be of any assistance they can.
“It’s been great to see so many people from different backgrounds try to help them,” Costa said. “We’re very excited about being part of this and very happy that this family is happy to be in this community. As long as we’re there to support them, I think they’re going to do fine.”