Panel on Afghan Voices in Syracuse

WTB’s “Afghan Voices” program took place Oct. 17 at JowonioSchool and via Zoom. We are grateful to our panelists, those who put the meeting together, and everyone who participated in person and virtually.

Panelist Maliha Alikhel and her daughter Nazo explained how the family fled Afghanistan to Pakistan in the dead of night after her husband, an Afghan soldier, was killed by the Taliban. Two years later Maliha and her nine children aged 2-16 years came to Syracuse as refugees. Mother and daughter shared their fears for their family members still living in Afghanistan now that the Taliban has come to power. When asked the way we can best help Afghan families newly arriving in Syracuse, Maliha responded simply “go talk with them.”

Panelist Karen Alimi spoke of her experiences in the 1970s when she traveled to Afghanistan to marry; she lived there for two years before returning with her husband to live in Syracuse. A Jewish woman married to a Muslim man, she shared some of the challenges and rewards of raising her family in both traditions and cultures. 

Panelist Daryl Files of InterFaith Works of CNY spoke about the unique situation of Afghan families who fled the country after the US withdrawal. The program supporting their resettlement is not yet fully funded or in place. As many as 248 Afghans of the 53,000 currently being housed at US military bases are expected to be resettled in Syracuse.

How can we help? Financial support is definitely needed. The InterFaith Works website has a link for monetary donations and other ways to help with resettling over 800 newcomers expected to arrive in the next 12 months. Since apartments are furnished for them, there may be opportunities to donate furniture, TVs, and household items. InterFaith Works is currently accepting only winter coats and children’s clothing up to size 5 in pristine condition. They are especially looking for “Ambassadorships”: groups of five to ten people who will make a six-month commitment to build relationships with an arriving family and help them settle in and feel comfortable.

The next Sunday gathering is Dec. 12, 3-5 pm, at Jowonio School, 3049 E. Genesee St., Syracuse. Details to be announced.