- What are we trying to do?
We are trying to find host families to temporarily host Afghan refugee families for a period of 3-7 days after they arrive at SeaTac. This is a temporary arrangement and will allow time for resettlement agencies to find permanent homes for these refugee families.
- Where do I sign up to be a host family?
We (a group of Vietnamese American friends) are working with the Afghan Health Initiative to match Vietnamese families with Afghan refugee families. AHI is closely aligned with and supporting the five main resettlement agencies in Washington coordinating intake. If you’d like to commit to helping, please sign up here (and shoot us an email at Afghans4Viets@gmail.com to let us know you signed up). https://bit.ly/HostRefugees
- How does the matching process work?
Introduction is made with a host family and resettlement agency, who’ll then work with the volunteering host family to discuss housing accommodations. The case manager for the refugee family will do the brunt of the work.
Every family has their own comfort level, so feel free to let the case manager know your parameters, such as days when you’re not available to host, or whether you want to host someone who has been tested for COVID-19, but not yet fully vaccinated.
Interaction is voluntary – social distancing is perfectly acceptable. It’s also fine if host families prefer to provide accommodations for refugee families in AirBnB/hotels/motels instead of in their own houses. The biggest priority for us is to give the refugees a safe dry roof over their head until the resettlement agencies can find more permanent housing solutions.
Each day, up to 100-150 refugees are arriving in the Washington area, depending on who’s able to get on planes. The situation is fluid, with numbers fluctuating and expected to go up, so there is a lot of need for help.
- Will refugees be vaccinated already?
This varies. Many will get vaccinated overseas in a foreign country before coming to the U.S., but some will fall through cracks. They’re trying to get everyone vaccinated once they arrive. Families are screened & tested once they touch down. Important thing to remember is that host families won’t have to host any refugee family if they’re not comfortable, so just let AHI know about concerns or constraints, and they’ll find the right match.
- Can we pay for a hotel or AirBnB to accommodate the family instead of hosting at our house?
That’s fine. Instead of hosting, the host can pay for an Airbnb or hotel/motel for the refugee family. Maximum time needed is one week. Please specify this request in the intake form.
If you want to donate financial assistance for immediate and future needs – AHI accepts payments on its website at any time. If you’re willing to sponsor a family directly, wait till you’re connected with that family.
Donate here: https://afghanhealth.org/donate
- Is there any risk that the families will have to stay longer than 7 days?
At the moment, the agencies are saying NO. Max of 7 days, for now. If donors would like to give extra time, case by case, that can be worked out.
- Where will they be moved to after they stay in temporary housing with us?
The resettlement agencies are trying to get them to cities closest to their communities. South King County, most likely. But they need affordable housing. Lack of affordable housing is an issue, so the agencies are starting to resettle families farther away – including as far south as Tacoma and north of Seattle.
- What’s the timeframe for arrival?
Time frame varies. It takes 24 hours to get from Afghanistan to Washington. Airports are chaotic right now. No concrete time frame. Some are coming in military planes; others on commercial flights.
- Why are we trying to recruit 75 Vietnamese American families to be sponsors?
We are aiming for 75 host families to start because 1975 was a significant year for many Vietnamese Americans. In the final days of the Vietnam War, nearly 130,000 South Vietnamese were evacuated and resettled abroad. That first wave of refugees would be followed by millions of others throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Countless Vietnamese Americans were initially sponsored by churches and benefited from the kindness of strangers who took us into their homes while we got back on our feet, offering shelter, services, and friendship. Here in Washington, our community has an obligation to pay it forward, as then-Gov. Dan Evans was the first in the nation to invite Vietnamese refugees to resettle in the Evergreen State. In honor of this legacy, we are now recruiting 75 Vietnamese American families to give back and help the Afghan people as they endure their own tragic refugee journey.
As Thanh Tan wrote: I think these images coming out of Kabul have been really powerful – and triggering – for a lot of Vietnamese people because they’re stark reminders that history rhymes and repeats. A group of us want to do something to help because it’s important to remember that many American communities opened their hearts and homes to Vietnamese refugees at a time when public opinion polls opposed the war and our entry into the United States. The southeast Asian refugee crisis that followed lasted well into the 1990s, so we should be prepared for a similar humanitarian crisis to last for some time. The Vietnamese refugee experience helped lay the groundwork for the resettlement program we have today. We don’t get to sit this one out and let the government do all the work. We were these Afghan asylum seekers not too long ago, fleeing persecution for siding with the United States in a civil conflict. We know the horror of losing our country and having the rug pulled from underneath us. We understand the fear of being targeted by armed enemies. After nearly 50 years of enduring in America, we have a moral obligation to help those refugees who’ve come after us – with our dollars, time, resources, advocacy and a sense of compassion.
The year 1975 was so pivotal for Vietnamese Americans. That’s why we’re aiming to recruit at least 75 Vietnamese families to host or sponsor 75 Afghan refugee families. Many of us are in a better place now, and we cannot shut the doors of opportunity that were so generously opened to us in our hour of need. Let’s honor our history and experience by paying it forward and helping Afghans seeking safe refuge.”
10. How can we follow this project’s work?
Information will be updated constantly as the situation changes in the coming weeks and months.