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B’Nai Emunah, OSU join Afghan refugee relief efforts

Posted at 6:53 PM, Oct 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-08 21:31:44-04

TULSA, Okla. — Tulsa’s B’Nai Emunah is adding its name to the list of local agencies helping Afghan refugees in the resettlement process.

The Synagogue is partnering with Catholic Charities and the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society to help refugees in the first three months of their resettlement process.

From finding housing to accomodating medical needs, B'Nai Emunah will be the place many of them go to when they first arrive in Tulsa.

Synagogue leaders have committed to helping Afghan refugee families start their new life and get plugged into resources.

This is in addition to the 800 families that Catholic Charities is helping.

“We both see this as enhancing all the services provided to refugees in Tulsa and that by them being successful and us being successful, the whole community will be more successful," Rabbi Dan B'Nai Emunah Synagogue says.

They are not the only ones offering support to Afghan refugee families.

Oklahoma State University is teaming up with Catholic Charities of Oklahoma to assist in helping Afghan refugees resettling here.

Campus leaders say they had the resources and when they heard about the need, they couldn't pass up the opportunity to help.

“As the situation in Afghanistan unfolded, we had a number of students asking us is OSU going to do anything?” said Randy Kluver, associate provost and dean of OSU Global Studies.

Kluver said requests to help Afghan refugees came from many in Stillwater, including service members who have friends in Afghanistan.

“When we heard that Catholic Charities had selected Stillwater to bring refugees, we looked at that and said, this is the perfect opportunity for us,” Kluver said.

“Because of COVID, a number of our international students who would usually be in these apartments weren’t able to come, so we’ve had empty apartments."

The campus will house 40 families.

“We said this is the perfect solution to this problem, we can provide short-term housing to these refugee families, while also using this vacant space that we’re not currently using,” Kluver said.

Since the apartments are geared for international students, Kluver said the layout will help connect the families to resources to facilitate resettlement.

He said they are not using university funds, but simply providing housing access, intensive English programs, and services to help them integrate. The apartments will be furnished by donations to Catholic Charities.

“The families that are coming out of Afghanistan have been traumatized, many of them had to leave very quickly," Kluver said.

"They don’t have any of their belongings, they’ve had to leave behind their families, they’ve come out of a very traumatic situation, and to come into a welcoming community where people understand and people are willing to welcome them to their community to help them learn English, to help them find jobs, to help them restart their lives, I think it’s going to be huge.”

The families will be able to stay in the apartments until next July. OSU campus leaders expect them to find more permanent housing.

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