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November 26, 2017: Giving Thanks for Our New Friends -- An Update on Our Refugee Support Efforts

by Embry Howell and Steve Merrill

As we have shared previously, earlier this year All Souls partnered with two Georgetown parishes, Christ Church and St. John’s, to sponsor a refugee family through Lutheran Social Services. At this time of gratitude and friendship, we’d like to update you on how these efforts are going.

Even before we were assigned an official family, in April we learned of the Haydaris, an Afghan-Iranian refugee family that lacked a sponsor. Maryam and Khojat have two girls, Fatimeh (7) and Haniyeh (3). All Souls has helped with donations of food, diapers, clothing, and toys. Most recently, we were able to provide a donated used car. Khojat has begun working as a welder, Maryam is taking English classes at Prince Georges Community College and is seeking to earn some money as a caterer, and the girls are in school and already able to serve as English translators for their parents!

Our “official” refugee family, the Habibullahs, arrived in September and is settling in well.  Originally from Afghanistan, father Habib, mother Shahida, and their daughters Uranus (5) and Arshida (2 ½) live in Maryland.  Shahida is expecting, so there will be a new Habibullah in the spring! The most urgent needs for the Habibullahs are transportation (volunteers to provide rides, and/or a donated car that can fit three car seats); job leads for Habib, who worked for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Afghanistan; and English tutoring for Shahida, who due to her advancing pregnancy is unable to take advantage of community college classes.

In closing, we share a quote from Rabbi Daniel Zemel of Temple Micah, which is also resettling a family from Afghanistan: “Our tradition teaches us that anyone who saves a life is considered as if they have saved an entire world… In sponsoring this family, we have helped people relocate from a tragically war-torn country to our great land overflowing with opportunity… In a time of great global strife, it is simply good to do one deeply human act of compassion and justice.”


How to Help Now

For the Haydaris: Please continue to contribute food, which is a tremendous help in making ends meet now that their food stamp assistance has ended. We would like to be able to provide Maryam with some English language tutoring. Finally, if you need catering for a party, consider hiring Maryam - she won’t disappoint, as Steve can tell you from experience!

For the Habibullahs: The most urgent need is transportation assistance for medical appointments and the like. (Volunteer drivers will need to go through an online background check and brief training which can be arranged through Steve.) We are also seeking a used car in very good working condition that can fit 3 child car seats.
The next most urgent need is employment for Habib, a bachelor’s level civil engineer (who worked for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Afghanistan and has very good English).  Please share any job leads in engineering, construction, or related fields.


For Shahida, we are seeking in-home options for English tutoring, as her pregnancy and impending motherhood make attending community college classes difficult. We may be able to include Maryam in her classes.  We also need babysitters to look after Arshida while Shahida is in class or has appointments.  

If you can help with any of these, or have questions or other ideas, please contact Steve Merrill (stephenamerrill@gmail.com) or Embry Howell (EHowell@urban.org).


THANK YOU! While many parishioners have been generous with time and contributions, a few people merit special mention, including:

  • Embry and Joe Howell, who located and rented the apartment for the Habibullahs
  • Jeff Wells, who chaired the efficient furnishing committee, which furnished the apartment with donated furniture from A Wider Circle
  • Matt Ackridge, who developed a supplies list on Amazon
  • Lee Davis, chair of the transportation committee
  • Mother Elizabeth Orens, chair of the All Souls Welcoming Committee
  • Wynsor Taylor, co-chair of the education committee
  • Rita Zener, who will be providing one-on-one ESL tutoring
  • Kathleen Scholl, who’s taking on the monumental job of entering volunteer hours and donation amounts into Lutheran Social Services’ online system
  • Josie Martin and Lisa Watson, who donated three beautiful bikes
  • Our Rector, Jadon Hartsuff, and Senior Warden, Daniel Callis, who have provided continual support  
Last Published: December 13, 2017 11:27 AM
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