Wisconsin Muslim organizations devise plan to help Afghan refugees

Several Mosques and Muslim organizations from across Wisconsin met Sunday to create plan of action for refugee aid at Fort McCoy

Aug 30, 2021

Courtney Sisk Reporter

Several Mosques and Muslim organizations from across Wisconsin met Sunday to create a plan of action for Afghan refugee aid.

They referred to the refugees at Fort McCoy as guests.

Sunday there are nearly 3,000 guests at Fort McCoy in Wisconsin. But with the US troop withdrawal deadline two days away, the fort expects 10,000.

Many guests came with only the clothes on their backs and the shoes on their feet. Muslim organizations said there will be numerous needs, so they met to figure out where to start.

“I think the major thing they need to know is how to get acclimated to the society because they’re coming from an area that is very different than the United States,” said Islamic Society of Milwaukee board member Munjed Ahmad. “It’s very important that they understand we respect their identity. We don’t want them to change who they are. We don’t want them to change their religious beliefs or cultural beliefs, but there is a space to have your cultural beliefs, religious beliefs and also be American.”

Language barriers, housing and resources were some of the main issues identified Sunday.

“Our idea is to create a Google Doc, almost like a brochure of sorts, so that the guest community can understand that if you need, for example, healthcare you can go to this organization. If you need rent assistance you can go to this organization, furniture you can go to this organization,” Ahmad told WISN 12 News.

Eventually, resettlement agencies will help the guests with housing and the job search, but that’s temporary.

Muslim leaders said it will be a priority to visit Fort McCoy in the near future to gauge specific needs. In the meantime board members at the Islamic Society of Milwaukee said the general public can call for direction on donations.

There are ways to donate furniture, culturally appropriate clothes, other household items and monetary donations.

The group also planned to work on providing religious services at Fort McCoy.

Upon arrival, the guests will be eligible for language classes designed to help them land jobs. Due to the workforce shortage organizers believe there will be opportunities for the guests to find work.

Aside from donations, Muslim leaders also said being a friendly neighbor can go a long way.

“The reason they’re coming to this country is because they helped us in Afghanistan,” said Director of the Islamic Society of Milwaukee Othman Atta. “And I think we can kind of return that favor to them by really making them feel welcome.”

Several additional interfaith groups have reached out to the ISM to coordinate aid efforts.

SOURCE https://www.wisn.com/article/wisconsin-muslim-organizations-devise-plan-to-help-afghan-refugees/37426252#

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