Catholics in St. Louis persist in coming together to support Afghan refugee families.

Connecting Through Welcome Neighbor STL

Initially connected through Welcome Neighbor STL, Ann Wittman volunteered to assist Afghan families arriving in the U.S., recognizing their challenges beyond mere survival.

Despite the support from local resettlement agencies, these families faced enduring hurdles such as language barriers, financial constraints, and the absence of a supportive community.

The Encounter with the Wardaks

In November 2021, the Wittmans crossed paths with the Wardaks, a family of eight fleeing Afghanistan, where the father, Farid, had worked with U.S. forces.

Placed in a bare apartment, the Wittmans went beyond the basics, purchasing a house for the Wardaks using their savings.

They even facilitated the acquisition of a car for Farid, aiding his work and English language journey.

Transformation and Growth

Over a year later, the Wardaks have flourished. Farid’s dedication to English classes has paid off, making him a homeowner and an integrated member of the neighborhood, forming friendships and becoming a valued part of the community.

Extending Support to Others

Beyond the Wardaks, Wittman’s efforts extended to Jawana’s family, facilitating the purchase of a second car after a fundraising initiative by friends.

Jawana, a former school principal from Kabul, now contributes to Catholic Legal Immigration Services, showcasing immense resilience and dedication.

HumanKind STL: Mobilizing Support

Wittman, along with her cousin Delia Andrews, initiated HumanKind STL, a nonprofit dedicated to aiding Afghan families in St. Louis.

They aim to gather funds and resources from various sources, collaborating with Catholic institutions, including schools, which have rallied to support these families through fundraisers and volunteering efforts.

Collective Joy and Assistance

A poignant display of community support emerged during a Christmas party organized by St. Louis Teens Aid Refugees Today (START), where Afghan children reveled in the festivities.

With START’s partnership, local Catholic high school students curated household baskets for 40 Afghan families, engaging 30 teen volunteers to create crafts and games for the children.

The collective efforts reflect a widespread commitment to support and integrate Afghan families into the St. Louis community, embodying the spirit of solidarity and care.

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