AFGAHN RESETTLEMENT PROJECT
When it became clear that thousands of Afghan citizens
would be relocating to the United States due to the
pullout of US troops from Afghanistan and the predicted
takeover of the Taliban, Bob Hansen, Joan Morris and
Bob Sterner proposed to the Rotary Club of Fulton that
the organization lead resettlement efforts in Callaway
County. They reminded their fellow Rotary members that
their motto is “Service Above Self” and the Rotarians
Most evacuees from Afghanistan came to the U.S. with
few belongings. Many qualify for special immigrant visa
status in the United States based on the danger they
would likely suffer for having worked for or with the U.S.
during the 20-year Afghan War. The operation to resettle
the 100,000 Afghans who were airlifted out of their
country has been referred to as “an emergency
Working with Catholic Charities of Central and Northern Missouri, the Rotary members knew that to be successful this must be a community-wide initiative, so they recruited 30+ additional members to their team. They include representatives from many faith groups and other civic organizations. Two women in particular have stepped up—Mary Osburn is the education team leader and Robbie Humphrey is the health team leader. Rotarians and many others have cleaned apartments, moved furniture and donated money and goods. The cause has created solid relationships in the community among people who might never have gotten to know each other.
So far the Fulton Afghan Resettlement Committee has helped settle five families (10 adults and 29 children) in Callaway County. They have secured housing, furnishings, food, clothing, etc. They have met refugee families when they arrive at airports, connected them with local services and familiarized them with everything that makes Fulton and Callaway County special. They are committed to integrating the Afghan refugees into the community by enrolling children in schools, helping them obtain jobs, and providing transportation to appointments and shopping trips.
Fulton Rotary’s President-Elect Allen Huggins is assistant director at the Dollar General Distribution Center and he has worked to make DG the first to step up and offer employment to the Afghans.
This community-wide, Rotarian-led initiative was the first Community Sponsorship program in Central Missouri and its organizational structure and overall model has now been copied by other towns and small cities in Missouri.
The goal is to get the families to the point where they have everything they need to be self-sufficient, productive members of the Callaway County community.