Fresh Meadows organization awarded $25k grant to help Afghan refugees settle into their new lives in the U.S.

Women for Afghan Women received a $25,000 grant to help refugees access a variety of services as they settle into their new lives in the U.S. (Photo courtesy of WAW)

Women for Afghan Women (WAW), a grassroots organization based in Fresh Meadows dedicated to protecting and promoting the rights of Afghan women and girls, received a $25,000 grant from Islamic Relief USA (IRUSA) to help refugees access a variety of services as they settle into their new lives in the U.S. 

“We are very grateful for the generous grant by the Islamic Relief USA to Women for Afghan Women, which will be used to support Afghan refugees in the United States. This fund helped us to provide pro-bono legal, social and mental health services to Afghan families who have come to the United States,” said Kevin Schumacher, deputy executive director of WAW. “Our dedicated staff in New York and Virginia are here to help the Afghan families who need support and to welcome them to their new country.”  

WAW, located at 158-24 73rd Ave., has been providing comprehensive and culturally specific services to women, youth and families in New York City since 2003, empowering immigrants and refugees. 

The Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021 created a humanitarian and refugee crisis. In September, Governor Kathy Hochul welcomed Afghan refugees to New York State, and it was announced that as many as 1,143 refugees were to be resettled in communities throughout New York over the next six months. Hochul had pledged $2 million toward refugee resettlement services. 

WAW is working with agencies like IRC, Catholic Charities and Lutheran Social Services to ensure that refugees are provided with culturally sensitive and linguistically appropriate services. U.S.-contracted refugee agencies are only allowed to provide support for 90 days, after which refugees will lose their support network. WAW will step in after this period to provide short-term and long-term support to ensure that refugees are connected to the community, resources, opportunities and trauma-informed services.

This project will also serve others who have been affected by the Afghanistan crisis, including asylum seekers, humanitarian parolees, those who need help with immigration documents, those who have cases in progress (such as family petitions) and those included in the United States’ deportation list to Afghanistan.

The assistance will provide the following services to more than 200 refugees:

  • Clothing distribution: WAW is working with city officials to welcome refugees to New York. Clothing and warm halal food will be provided to arriving refugees. Food will be provided by Shah’s Halal Food. WAW will inform IRUSA of the final details ASAP.
  • Mental health: WAW’s staff counselor will provide culturally/linguistically appropriate mental health counseling. Individual in-person and remote support will be provided to 75 individuals. The counselor will lead volunteer mental health professionals who will work with 25 clients. A total of 100 refugees will benefit from this service.
  • Legal consultation: Fifty families will be provided with legal support on immigration issues (humanitarian parole, P-2s, asylum, i-130s, adjustment of status, etc). Each family will have multiple cases. WAW, so far, is working on 200 legal cases.
  • Case management: WAW will work extensively with 50 families so they can access basic needs and benefits, and are assisted with navigating systems/processes. The organization will help with filling out/sending applications, advocate for them during appointments, provide language support, job placement, including building resumes, mock interviews and matching/connecting them with opportunities. 

WAW will also provide assistance with finding permanent housing for refugees in the city. While waiting to move into permanent homes, WAW will provide temporary housing through a grant with Airbnb.

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