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2023 Highlights

Another year of choosing welcome ended with the usual mix of successes and challenges.  Our extraordinary cadre of volunteers supported our families with respect and understanding and our generous donors made the journey easier in so many ways. But the real highlight continues to be the resilience and resourcefulness of the men, women and children we’re privileged to work with. Here are just a few examples.



From our founding in 2015, our mission has always been clear:  to welcome refugees, helping them on their path to self-sufficiency while respecting their dignity and uniqueness.


In 2023, we saw six families ‘graduate from RAP’s more intensive involvement and support, with stable housing, reliable income that covers their expenses and the ability to navigate their daily life and community unassisted. Here are the stories of two of those families.

The M. Family

After fleeing Sudan and seeking refuge in Egypt, the family of six resettled in New Jersey less than six months before the Covid19 lockdown. When we began working with the family in 2020, the top priority and most pressing issue for Adam, the head of the family, was to get consistent access to medical care for his family. RAP helped them navigate the paperwork and bureaucracy required to establish disability services for two family members and connected the entire family to quality medical care.

During this time, all the adults in the family sought jobs, and RAP partnered with them to secure four income streams for the family, which reduced their reliance on public benefits and stabilized their housing.

While the children mastered English quickly, it was a steeper climb for the parents, both of whom had been illiterate in their native language. They persevered with the help of RAP’s tutoring program and now have enough proficiency to communicate effectively. And two adult children are now thriving in college!

Perhaps the most visible indicator of their hard-earned success is the family car! Adam earned his driver’s license and bought his own car, allowing the family to more easily access all of their community’s resources

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Adam and his daughter Mazaa at one of RAP's summer picnics.

The E. Family

After being separated from their family when they were evacuated from Afghanistan, Sadiq and his teen-age brother Masih faced isolation and instability in their new home. Happily, they were able to connect with the Afghan community and their peers through RAP’s social programs.

Both brothers worked diligently with their seven-person RAP family team, consisting of mentors and tutors, to master English in a record four months. The bonds forged between these two young men and their RAP team were rock solid, even referring to one RAP team member Shirley Grill as their American ‘grandmother’.

Shirley helped Sediq find his first job, which he leveraged for a second job at a men’s high-end fashion retailer, earning him higher pay and tremendous personal satisfaction. With that strong foundation, Sediq got a driver’s license and with RAP’s help, a car of his own. Thanks to his better job (and the RAP team's persistence and partnerships) he moved into a new, larger apartment, providing a stable, supportive environment for Masih.


RAP has worked with families who were part of the sudden and terrifying evacuation in Afghanistan for the past two-plus years. We’ve provided customized support where and when they needed it and their progress has been remarkable.  This year, we were fortunate to be able to offer a unique program that recognizes the mental health challenges of forced displacement on families with young children.

Mawah Moms: Afghan Mothers Parenting Group was a 10-week intensive class for Afghan mothers and their children, designed to improve parent-child relations and strengthen parents’ bonds with their children to enhance family resilience.

Six Afghan families participated in the program, funded by a substantial grant from CARRE (Center for Adjustment, Resilience, and Recovery), and presented with our frequent partner, One World One Love.

Professional facilitators and interpreters in Dari and Pashto guided discussions about child development, the effects of trauma on families, and how parents can be a safe haven for their children. We ended the series in celebration with an Afghan potluck meal!

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Masih and Sadiq

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Masih and Shirley Grill on their way to the Statue of Liberty

Our Facilitators and Interpreters: Bibi, Awilda, Pashmina, and Zuhal

And We Can’t Forget…

RAP’s Education program assisted 36 eager students with English language and literacy lessons, academic tutoring in math, completing college applications, and help with drivers’ education thanks to a dedicated cadre of volunteers.


Our Second Annual Coat Drive yielded 1000+ coats (about 50% more than last year), collected in partnership with One World One Love. Thank you to all who donated, including Knights of Columbus in Elizabeth, the Scotch Plains Thrift Store, and MANY generous individuals.

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