Foster carer Alice* shares how it feels to come alongside Afghan refugees as they adapt to life in the UK, and urges us all to play our part in making them welcome
I heard the US was going to pull out of Afghanistan. I knew from conversations and research that this wouldn’t end well. You see, the Taliban didn’t ever really go away. I think they just pretended to, while hiding in plain sight.
Afghanistan is a place I’ve never been. I’d love to visit. To look into the families’ eyes. To tell them I tried my best to care for and love those who came to my home.
Stories you wouldn’t believe
I sometimes wonder what traumatises the children of Afghanistan who have fled the most. Living in a village or town where you can’t go out after dark without being kidnapped or worse? The death of loved ones? Knowing that by leaving they are instantly putting their family members in peril, but to stay would mean death? Or worse – being forced to become a terrorist?
Or is it the journey to safety? I’ve heard stories you wouldn’t believe. I’m also aware of the things missing from the stories. Things not told to protect us. Things too painful to tell.
So we look after the survivors. The ones who got out. The traumatised. Get them to the doctor, dentist. Try to get them help for the things going on in their heads. Try to get them into education, try to help them learn English. (I learned in the first lockdown that I am truly awful at teaching vowels!) We try to help them learn about our culture, while celebrating theirs.
Pray for quick decisions
Kabul fell so much faster than anyone thought. Our hearts are utterly broken. My prayers have been tears, hoping that as many people who can escape will do so. Seeing those boys so desperate, clinging to the plane, falling. Also praying that those Afghans already in the asylum-claim process in the UK will be granted leave to remain and permission to work and build lives for themselves.
The fear of maybe having to return is a constant. Let’s pray for quick decisions and peace while people wait, and that the insanity of fear would not win.
Do we have enough faith to pray for freedom for Afghanistan’s people? I’m praying that the Taliban is telling the truth; that it won’t seek murderous revenge once the West has turned its eyes away. We also need to pray against ISIS. Pray against violence, terrorism and hate. Pray that any secret believers are protected and kept safe. That the truth of the gospel, of our Saviour’s love and grace, is seen.
Everyone is needed
Please help in whatever way you can. Not just for the people from Afghanistan, but for all asylum seekers living here. Pray for kindness and justice at the Home Office, that they would employ more people to catch up with the horrendous delays.
Think about fostering, especially unaccompanied, asylum-seeking young people. Support foster carers in your church or community if you can’t foster yourself. I thank all our supporters, and I thank God for taking us on this crazy journey that has given us far more than we have given those we are trying to help.
*Name changed to protect the refugees she has welcomed into her home.
Welcome Churches has set up an Emergency Afghan Fund where people can donate to provide local support for new arrivals from Afghanistan. Refugee Roots helps asylum seekers and refugees find friendship and a place to call home.
Image: Marcos del Mazo / Alamy Stock Photo