More Than A Welcoming Hand To Afghan Refugees

More Than A Welcoming Hand To Afghan Refugees

The Welcome Kettle Project offers more than a helping hand when it comes to supporting Afghan refugees settling into the Cleveland area.

A volunteer helping with sorting donations sourced by Suzanne Taber.

The Welcome Kettle Project is a nonprofit organization that was formed last November to help aid newly immigrated Afghan refugees settling within the Northeast Ohio area.

The origins of this organization, and the refugees they help, carries a deeper story beyond the surface level. The Afghan refugee crisis has been one of the longest and most drawn out in the world.

Last August, american troops pulled out of Afghanistan after twenty- years of being at war against the Afghan terrorist group, the Taliban, which took siege over most of the country’s cities. 

Since Jan. 2021, more than 600,000 Afghan refugees have been immigrating to other countries seeking asylum after the Taliban took total control of Afghanistan.

The Welcome Kettle Project started as a local call to action to help aid the Afghan refugees resettling in the area by providing them with essential household and personal items.

“We receive donations mainly centered around personal items that the refugees need for their daily lives that they don’t necessarily come herewith.” Said Suzanne Taber, office manager for community life collaborative. “These items can be toothbrushes, shampoos and other shower products, feminine hygiene products and essential items that a lot of us don’t think about because we have them accessible to us.”

The Welcome Kettle Project is part of a bigger nonprofit organization called The Community Life Collaborative (CLC). The CLC also supports other social and environmental justice programs within there organization.

The Welcome Kettle Project received its name because of the symbolism behind welcoming a guest with a cup of tea into a homestead. In many cultures, offering tea is a part of welcoming a guest into a home, the CLC wants to welcome the refugees by “helping them start a new and stable homestead,” as stated on the CLC website.

The organization had contributed over 150 hours of volunteer work this past year in November and December. During this time, they prepared carloads of donations that were sent to the Catholic Charities Diocese of Cleveland and the Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI).

These two organizations, along with US Together, are the main agencies that aid in resettling Afghan families within the Cleveland area. These organizations have settled over 500 individuals and have received help through the work and partnership of the Welcome Kettle Project.

Graham Ball, the development associate at USCRI, explains how working with the Welcome Kettle Project and CLC has supported the success that the USCRI has seen during the Afghan evacuation crisis. 

“The Welcome Kettle Project has provided us with high-quality donations of essential household items, including bedding, kitchenware, cleaning supplies, furniture and many other items that refugee families need to begin their new lives in Northeast Ohio.”

Graham Ball

The nonprofit has also provided the USCRI with valuable connections to dedicated volunteers who have given their time to the organization’s refugee families.

“With the Welcome Kettle Projects help, USCRI Cleveland has resettled more that 200 Afghan refugees since this crisis began, which is more than we resettled in the last two-years combined.”

Graham Ball

The USCRI provides refugees and immigrants with healthcare, job training, housing and education to the families they support.

“99% of the refugees we enroll in our employment program are gainfully employed and self-sufficient within 6 months,” said Ball.

Currently, the Welcome Kettle Project is asking for funds as they have been receiving an abundance of tangible items, said Taber. 

A moving truck loaded with donated furniture to deliver to the agencies sourced by Suzanne Taber.

The monetary donations that the organization receives will help make a difference in purchasing specific items that the nonprofit doesn’t normally receive, said Taber. Items such as new mattresses, pillows and hygiene products are some of the items that will be purchased specifically with fiscal donations.

You can learn how you can get involved with the Welcome Kettle Project and more information about the Community Life Collaborative organization on their website.

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