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Afghan Refugee Family Update

The Social Justice Committee at St. Lucas UCC continues on its mission. We still work with an immigrant Afghan family, in our sixth month. We have also reached out to several LGBTQ local groups to organize a seminar to promote understanding through a planned discussion at St. Lucas UCC. And, we see so many other needs in our community where we can learn or offer help.

Recently, we met the Afghan father at his friend’s food market. We wanted to be sure that he understood the consequences of some upcoming decisions. The market owner volunteered to translate for us. I asked him to do that last week because he might reinforce our suggestions in later conversations that they may have.

First, because the father's salary is meager, we described the consequences of not paying rent in full, including eviction, and the damaging lack of credit if the father tries to rent another apartment.

We warned him of not paying the power bill, that after cut-off, Ameren requires payment of the accumulated debt before restoration.

I explained that a phone plan can easily cost over $100 monthly. He can’t afford that. He explained that he was talked into his current plan by the store and by his friend. We offered to help him modify an expensive plan, or find a cheaper plan, although it might mean slower data. He might not have understood that. But he promised to have his friend help him.

We discussed his green card status. Many documents are required, including proof of working with the American military, and citizenship proof. We and the International Institute are helping.

We would like to help him find a car, but we have mixed feelings about it. We again explained how expensive car ownership is. He would pay $5-10 per day for gas to drive to work, and insurance might be $1000 every six months, not to mention repairs, parking tickets, and accidents. But a car gives some freedom. We want to warn him.

Shirley and Kathy continue to help him and his wife in learning English. And, they might be able to reboot his fusty donated TV. American TV often is a great teacher of English, when it works.

Running out of time, we did not discuss school issues or bugs, mice, cell phone hotspots, fans, appliance problems, WIC, SNAP, or his shoulder injury. Still we are making progress.

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