By Betsy Richman, December 01, 2021
On November 9, Washington, D.C. Chapter co-chair Eunice Reddick attended a State Department-organized “Afghanistan Resettlement Stakeholders Town Hall Meeting.” The virtual Town Hall provided updates on the “whole of America” approach to welcoming Afghans from White House Coordinator for Operation Allies Welcome and Delaware Governor Jack Markell, State Department officials, a representative of the Afghan diaspora, Shawn Vandiver the founder #AfghanEvac Coalition, and Nazanin Ash the CEO of Welcome.US.
U.S. government agencies are partnering with Welcome.US to catalyze support from Americans from all walks of life for newly arriving Afghans, engaging a range of private sector entities including companies, over 350 non-profit organizations, nine national resettlement agencies, Afghan-American organizations and leaders, faith-based communities, refugees, community sponsorship groups, veterans, universities, governors and mayors, and many others. Welcome.US is a non-profit, non-partisan initiative of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (RPA), with President and Mrs. Obama, President and Mrs. Bush, and President and Secretary Clinton as honorary co-chairs.
The Welcome.US website provides a wealth of information on legal issues and visa categories of arriving Afghans, resources for sponsorship, and how Americans can assist. Innovative initiatives include encouraging Americans to donate airline miles for Afghans to reach their new homes from the U.S. military bases where they are processed for resettlement. Welcome.US and Miles4Migrants are teaming up to secure 1 billion miles. Airbnb.org is partnering with resettlement agencies to fund temporary stays for 20,000 Afghans. Hosts can help by offering short-term stays for free or at a discount. Airbnb is waiving Host and guest fees for refugee stays.
Through Welcome.US, financial gifts to the Welcome Fund will help vetted and experienced nonprofits provide assistance to meet basic needs like food, housing, transportation, health care, and mental health counseling. Donations will also support legal services to help individuals and families navigate the lengthy and complex processes, including asylum, to secure permanent legal status in the United States.
Town Hall speakers praised the generosity displayed by the American people in welcoming newly arrived Afghans as nothing short of remarkable and a clear demonstration of American values as a nation of immigrants that welcomes refugees and vulnerable populations from across the world.