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Donations Have Made a Difference in St. Louis Refugee Lives

Paul Litzsinger and I returned to the International Institute of St. Louis (IISTL) on Tuesday, 1-25-22, to meet the father of the Afghan family, new to St. Louis. He had just finished his ESL class, and we knew that he could enter the storehouse, which was open today (the old gym of the St. Elizabeth Catholic girl’s school).

Several weeks ago, after an e-blast request, many St. Lucas UCC congregants brought supplies and household items to donate for the incoming Afghan immigrants. Many of us, on television, had seen the many Afghan families leaving Kabul in chaos, and saw the need.

A group of us decided to help at least one family learn the ways of this country, and our chore Tuesday was to find what donations in the IISTL gym could make their lives easier.

The family’s father primarily wanted several blankets and diapers for their six-month-old. However, the kindness of donors allowed him to find that and more. He was able to get coats, clothing, mittens and hats for himself and his daughters, and some household goods.

We arrived at their apartment, assembled a clothes drying rack that we gave them, checked on the sewing machine that a St. Lucas congregant had donated, and went over several documents necessary for him to find work.

We checked on other needs, and are now pursuing the washer and dryer, and a dozen other projects on our list. Learning English, transportation needs, and success at school, all currently challenge the family. But with the support of the St. Louis community, and the supporting structure that the IISTL provides, these immigrants, like our Bosnian families 20 years ago, will make their way in this new country.

-Donovan Larson

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