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Empowering the Afghan Refugee Community: The Vital Role of Strong Family Leaders 

On February 10th, World Relief Sacramento celebrated 25 graduates of the Afghan Men’s Class, a 12-week course led by Shikeb Ehsaas, a Casework Specialist in Family Services, that covers a variety of topics such as culture shock, employment, financial stability, parenting, and self-care.

Shikeb teaching Sacramento Men's Class

In the wake of unprecedented upheaval, Afghan refugees embark on a journey fraught with uncertainty, seeking solace and stability in an unfamiliar land. As they confront the daunting task of resettlement, a silent adversary looms large: stress. From navigating complex bureaucratic processes to adapting to unfamiliar cultures, the weight of their past experiences intertwines with the challenges of building a new life. The delicate balance between financial stability and familial well-being emerges as a critical focal point. For many, the pressing need to secure employment and financial resources often overshadows the importance of nurturing familial bonds and mental well-being. However, amidst this struggle, a glimmer of hope arises: World Relief Sacramento’s Afghan Men’s Class. This class serves as a pillar of empowerment, providing invaluable tools and strategies to navigate uncertainties while fostering a renewed emphasis on prioritizing family cohesion and emotional resilience. Afghan men are learning to redefine success, finding liberation from stress by embracing a holistic approach rooted in the strength of familial ties and self-care. 

In this blog, we delve into the resilience of Afghan refugees as they confront and conquer the shadows of stress amidst the promise of a fresh start. 

Abdul Qahar: Shifting Focus 

Abdul Qahar’s journey embodies the resilience and determination of Afghan refugees striving to carve out a brighter future for their families amidst uncertainty. Faced with the daunting task of providing for his wife and four children in a new and unfamiliar country, Abdul Qahar found himself caught in the relentless cycle of financial strain. He said, “Since we are a big family, our expenses are high.” On top of my full-time job, I would try to work [a] few extra hours to get additional income through platforms like Door Dash. As a result, my life became stressful, and everything became boring to me.” Beneath the facade of perseverance, stress gnawed at his spirit, threatening to unravel the very fabric of his familial bonds. 

It was amid this crucible of adversity that Abdul’s path intersected with a beacon of hope: World Relief Sacramento’s Men’s Class, which is tailored to the unique needs of Afghan refugees. Here, he learned practical tools of budgeting and employment and the invaluable lesson of prioritizing his health and family. As he delved deeper into the intricacies of mental health and self-care, Abdul Qahar experienced a profound shift in perspective, recognizing that true wealth is found in the balance of responsibilities, including self-care and family health.  

Abdul shared, “Fundamental topics like mental health totally changed my mind set and motivated me to prioritize self-care. I realized that unless I am physically and mentally healthy and can manage life’s stresses, I cannot be the supportive partner and parent my family deserves. I’ve since made it a priority to maintain a balance between my responsibilities, my wife, and our children, ensuring that we lead a life of quality and reduced stress.” Today, Abdul stands as a testament to the power of resilience and the transformative potential of prioritizing family amidst the ebb and flow of life’s challenges. 

Sayed Mustafa: Prioritizing Family 

After participating in the Afghan Men’s Class, Sayed Mustafa recognized the need for a shift in his approach to parenting. He and his wife, both occupied with driving for Lyft/Uber to supplement their income, found themselves inadvertently neglecting their children’s emotional and developmental needs. They began noticing the unsettling signs of their children’s distress—manifested through aggressive behavior, refusal to eat, and reluctance to engage in school. It became evident that their children were yearning for more than passive distraction through screens; they craved meaningful connections and quality time with their parents. 

Acknowledging the urgency of the situation, Sayed Mustafa and his wife engaged in heartfelt discussions, culminating in a shared decision to recalibrate their work schedules, alternating between work and family time. Sayed Mustafa said, “After just a week of taking time to prioritize my kids, I see a difference. Now everything is better. I now know I need to make a balance between work and time for my wife and kids!” 

The quick change was a poignant reminder of the profound influence parental engagement holds in shaping the emotional landscape of childhood.  

Mujibullah: Solutions to Every Challenge 

As a newcomer, Mujibullah found integrating into a new society to be a daunting challenge. Starting from ground zero demanded considerable time, effort, and perseverance as Mujibullah navigated the intricate web of societal norms and expectations. He vividly recalls the day he took his first tentative steps toward forging a future in the United States. It felt like carrying a heavy burden, weighed down by the multitude of challenges and uncertainties that loomed ahead. The most challenging struggle was reconciling cultural differences, which cast a shadow of disillusionment over his initial optimism about life in the United States. These burdens weighed heavily on his shoulders, leaving him feeling adrift and uncertain about how to navigate the complexities of everyday life. 

In a stroke of providence, World Relief Sacramento emerged as a symbol of hope, offering a lifeline through their comprehensive classes. Through their invaluable support and guidance, Mujibullah gained a profound understanding of the intricate workings of American life—specifically appreciating learning about culture shock. 

Now, armed with knowledge and confidence, Mujibullah stands on firmer ground, equipped to navigate the intricacies of life in the United States. He is no longer daunted by the prospect of assimilating into a new culture; instead, he embraces the opportunity to share his newfound wisdom with his family, fostering a sense of unity and belonging in their shared journey. He stated, “Now I am familiar with how the financial system works in the United States, how I can benefit from healthcare programs, how to understand a new culture, and what are my responsibilities as a new resident of the United States. Most importantly, I learned how to prioritize my time with family members and to help them to integrate into society as well.” With his wife and two children by his side, life is now imbued with a sense of purpose and fulfillment, a testament to the transformative power of perseverance and community support. 

A Common Thread 

In Afghan culture, men have traditionally been cast as primary providers, while caregiving and household duties are typically relegated to women. However, empowered by their newfound knowledge gained in World Relief Sacramento’s Men’s Class, Afghan refugee men are challenging some of these norms, recognizing the inherent value in actively participating in parenting, household management, and decision-making processes, particularly during periods of heightened stress and uncertainty, The presence of strong family leaders emerges as an indispensable asset. These family leaders play a pivotal role in anchoring their families amidst turbulent seas. They fortify familial bonds and serve as support within the community. Their resilience in the face of adversity not only inspires hope but also fosters a sense of unity and collective empowerment. As they navigate the challenges of displacement, these leaders illuminate a path forward, embodying the enduring spirit of resilience, solidarity, and familial love that transcends cultural boundaries and adversities. 

You can join us in making tangible differences in the lives of Afghan refugees as they navigate the complex journey of resettlement. By partnering with World Relief Sacramento, you can play a crucial role in providing vital education and support to empower these families on their path to integration and self-sufficiency. Whether through volunteering, donating, or advocating for refugee rights, your involvement can make a meaningful impact in helping these families build brighter futures. Together, let’s stand in solidarity with Afghan refugees and ensure they have the resources and support they need to thrive in their new communities. Join us today and be a part of this transformative journey.

By Analise York

Analise is the Marketing & Events Coordinator at World Relief Sacramento.

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