Victorians step up to support Afghan refugees
Victorian businesses, community groups and individuals have come out in droves to support newly arrived Afghan refugees who were evacuated from Kabul last month with offers clothing, food, and other help, according to refugee settlement agency AMES Australia.
Almost 5 tonnes of goods and food have been donated worth around $250,000 and more than 50 volunteers have rolled up their sleeves to help out.
The Afghans were airlifted out of harm’s way by coalition forces as their homeland fell under Taliban control. Many came with just a passport and the clothes they wore.
Donations of cash, clothing, food, toiletries, household and baby goods as well as a range of goods and services have flowed in to support the Afghans, many of whom had worked for the Australian military or diplomatic mission in Afghanistan.
AMES CEO Cath Scarth said the offers of support had been “overwhelming”.
“Literally hundreds of businesses, community groups and individuals have come forward to offer help,” Ms Scarth said.
“Our humanitarian settlement staff as well as many others from across our organisation have been working tirelessly to support and empower what is a particularly vulnerable and weary cohort of people to ensure that they have everything they need to begin to begin their settlement journey here in Australia,” she said.
Ms Scarth said the work of settling the Afghans had been made more complex by COVID-19 restrictions and by the suddenness of their arrival.
“But the Afghanis themselves have shown incredible resilience and strength. We have been swamped with requests from them asking how they can help us with our work, when they can get jobs to support themselves and how they can get vaccinated,” she said.
“It has been wonderful and reassuring to see the outpouring of offers of help from Victorians wanting to support the Afghani families.
“Community groups, particularly from our own strong local Afghani communities, have stepped up with offers of help and support.
“We have seen literally hundreds of individual Victorians offer everything from hot food and clothing to toys, baby goods, sweet treats and toiletries.
“And our corporate partners have also been incredibly generous in supplying clothes, sports goods, shopping vouchers and more,” Ms Scarth said.
She said that while the basic needs of the Afghan arrivals are covered by the federal government’s refugee programs, it is these extra offerings that are so important in making sure that this cohort of refugees feels welcome.
The Afghan Gallery Restaurant in Fitzroy is just one business that has been donating to support the Afghans.
Owner Homiera Mershedi said that as former refugee herself, she felt compelled to try to help.
“It’s been very fulfilling to be able to help. When the Taliban took over we were all in shock; all of my friends and family were affected badly,” Ms Mershedi said.
“For us, we had two options – to stand up and do something or just give up. So we decided we would help in any way we could. And it was beneficial for us to be able to do something,” she said.
Since then we have received so many offers of support. It’s been overwhelming, in a good way. I’m very happy to have been able to help and we plan to do more,” Ms Mershedi said.
Businesses and groups that have donated include: Afghan community groups; Afghan Gallery Restaurant in Fitzroy; All Saints Church Anglican Greensborough; Aylas Café in Adelaide; Baba Mazari SA; Bestway Supermarket in Dandenong; Big W; Bonds; Brand Collective; City of Melbourne; Cotton On; Clarks; Cabrini Hospital; Deep Creek Anglican Church; Empire Apparel; Essity; Everlast; Gandel Foundation; GIVIT.com; Hanes Group; Hush Puppies; Islamic Society of Victoria; Jackie Curd; Jet Australia; Kmart; Melbourne Storm/NRL; Maria McLaren; Red Cross; Salamatea Café in Sunshine; Save The Children; Scape; Secondbite; Shamiat Syrian restaurant in Northcote; 7-Eleven; Sportsgirl; Spectrum; Sussan; Tarneit Sikh Temple; Telstra; thewelcomegroup; ThrivePR; West Welcome Wagon; Whittlesea Community Links; Wyndham Park Community Centre.
The best way to help is to make a financial donation through AMES Australia’s People in Need Fund. See how here:https://www.ames.net.au/about/make-a-donation
And you can also donate material goods such as appropriate clothing. See how here: https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=E16rdsafeE2SLMNaX3J_bfMQxbmyVvpFhx9dJpE4ljdURjVJOFNXRTBSWDJGNExPWU9URlNaRzBMVy4u,