From the Executive Director
I bring you greetings as RAP’s new Executive Director. This new year promises to start on a note of hope, even in the face of uncertainty.
2021 for many people was a year of terrifying unknowns. The halt of American involvement in Afghanistan and the subsequent collapse of the Afghan government brought trauma and fear to tens of thousands of people trying to escape the calamitous situation which ensued. They grieved the loss of their home country as they knew and loved it. They felt trauma and confusion as they were quickly airlifted to the US, only to be placed in protracted uncertainty on US military bases. They felt terrifying trepidation, not knowing what their fate would be in the US.
Many of the unknowns in 2021 are now made clear. Congress established the APA program for Afghan evacuees, opening new resources for those who had none. The federal government and national resettlement agencies are now backing private groups co-sponsoring evacuees and refugees. This year, the Afghan Adjustment Act is before Congress to grant all Afghan evacuees full refugee status.
It is my hope that one consequence of the Afghan evacuation will be enduring immigration reforms for all displaced people coming into the US. The Afghan evacuees are no more or less worthy of dignity and safety than the tens of thousands of refugees who came before them. I hope the national landscape of immigration transforms into one of empathy, solidarity and welcome for all seeking refuge here.
RAP does our small part in the Big Picture, helping refugees find self-sufficiency as they begin building a new life here in New Jersey. Our volunteers are foundational to this work! My deepest thanks go out to all our volunteers, both past and present, for their role in this life-changing work.
May we all enter into 2022 with hope, courage, and an enduring spirit of welcome!
Jill Segulin, January 2022