Local faith groups come together to help Afghan refugees resettle in Texas


AUSTIN (KXAN) — A woman gave birth to a healthy, baby girl only to abandon her homeland with her newborn two days later.

This mother fled without knowing if she would have food, water or even milk for her baby. She was unsure how she would provide shelter for her newborn.

Now, she is living with her infant in a south Austin apartment.

Her story is just one of hundreds that describe the upheaval Afghan refugees have lived through when the Taliban seized control of their country.

In the spirit of the holiday season, folks here in Central Texans are realizing that grace is needed now more than ever before.

A group of Episcopalians from St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church has teamed up with local Muslims and Jews who formed Austin Jews for Refugees to help refugees like that mother start a new life here in Texas.

“It’s been a wonderful partnership. We hope it continues to grow and prosper, and we are learning from each other. That’s the way it ought to be in this country” said Russ Apfel with Austin Jews for Refugees.

The faith-based group of people who have varying beliefs are bound by the mission to help those less fortunate. Volunteers drive refugees to doctor’s appointments and help them run errands. They gather clothes for children of all ages and food for families. They’ve also collected thousands of dollars in donations.

Apfel told KXAN’s Britt Moreno, “By far, the number one need is housing”. He said many of the refugees are in temporary housing.

“We need funds for food, furniture, clothing, and we need jobs” said Apfel. He said refugees want to be self-sufficient. 

Austin Jews for Refugees works with Refugee Services of Texas, which is the only resettlement agency in Austin. Apfel said the faith groups have helped more than 500 Afghan refugees so far.

“Right now, we have 21 pregnant women and families with children of all ages,” Apfel said.

The need will continue into the new year as Apfel expects another 500 Afghan refugees by February. Austin is now home to the most Afghan refugees in Texas, with San Antonio following closely behind.

To help with donations or provide jobs:

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