Message to the Diocese of Texas from The Most Reverend Michael Bruce Curry, Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church.
Just wanted to send an update on recent activities.
With Emily's help we did find a donated sewing machine a few weeks ago. Since then, several other families have asked for sewing machines, so we're on the look out for anyone willing to donate sewing machines.
A few weeks ago a family I've known for a while had requested bunk bed mattresses; since we were not able to find bunk bed mattresses via donation, I went ahead and purchased some from Walmart. They fit the bunk bed frame perfectly and now these kids are not sleeping on the hard wooden bunk bed slates - I can only imagine how relieving that is.
We had some back and forth about helping an Afghani who is struggling financially and we agreed that instead of giving him money for rent we'd be more comfortable purchasing him a HEB gift card - I'm hoping we can do that for him this month and I'll follow up with guys about that later.
I was on the lookout for a bedroom dresser/vanity that an Afghani guy named Fahim was looking for. A colleague of mine had one to donate so I met up with Fahim on Saturday and we picked that up and delivered to his apartment, that was a cool donation because his wife requested that special item (she is due in April, so I'm going to stay close to them to make sure they have what they need for their baby when she arrives).
Saturday afternoon I met up with Ramin who has been my main liaison with the Afghani refugee community. He caught wind of a man who was donating a bunch of furniture from his apartment, so Ramin, my brother, and myself cleared out said apartment and took the furniture to the shed. The shed is now 100% full, and Ramin has assured me that he'll find Afghani's who can use the furniture and when he does we'll hook them up.
A lot of people have asked me what is happening since the current political environment has not been bringing new refugees to the country. My answer to this is: I'm aware that there are about 1,500 Afghani families in Austin that came within the last 5 years. Our ministry has helped approximately 25-35 of those families, which leaves plenty of refugees in Austin who, although they are not brand new to the country, are still struggling. Ramin (who I mentioned above) is a tremendous resources and uses his networks to identify families that are still living in apartments with no furniture - I assume there are probably between 500 and 1000 Afghani families in Austin that are still living with no beds, couches, and limited cooking utensils. We continue to identify and assist these families and the Trump refugee ban has not slowed us down in this regards.
Thank you to everyone who continues to support this work. Please let me know if I can provide any additional details about anything. I know at some point we'll want to regroup and create a clearer game plan for going forward, so please let me know if/when you'd all like to meetup and we can come up with plans for the next year or so of refugee ministry.