A Look Back to 2021
A year of change, a year of coming together, a year of forging new paths when old ones wash away…
We began the year mitigating the continuing hardships of COVID-19 and ended the year facing the challenges of the Afghan evacuation. So many of RAP’s traditional modes of operation transformed in the wake of sudden upheavals.
Throughout the year, we were privileged to walk alongside 120+ refugee men, women and children. Whether it was helping them to navigate an ATM, accompanying them to doctor appointments, or resolving a landlord dispute, our role was the same: to facilitate their progress towards an independent life with dignity.
As always, we are indebted to the generous individuals, grantors, houses of worship, and civic organizations who gave of their time, money and talents. Our work would not be possible without them.
RAP provided assistance, showed support, and built community
As we continued our remote tutoring program, we recognized the need for an appropriate home-based learning environment for our students. We raised $1350 for workstations (desk, chair, lamp, charger, school supplies) and distributed them to 20 remote learning students.
Food insecurity remained a challenge and we supplied much-appreciated supplemental food to seven families during Ramadan.
Lost wages during the height of the pandemic forced many families to fall behind in their rents. During 2021 we provided $15,700 for COVID19-related emergency rent relief (bringing the total 2-year rent relief to $22,000). READ MORE ABOUT OUR RESPONSE TO THE COVID CRISIS HERE.
We were happy to provide $1175 in clothing and equipment for three teens attending summer leadership camp (in partnership with One World One Love).
Covid-safe summer fun was enjoyed by 60 refugees and RAP members at our annual picnic. Everyone enjoyed halal food, swimming and great conversation.
We made sure that children were ready for school with 60 new backpacks stuffed with school supplies for students ages 5-18 (in partnership with All Saints’ Episcopal Church).
With only what they could carry themselves, Afghan families were often unprepared for basic necessities and our cold NJ weather. We gathered 100 blankets and 25 bags of toiletries for 70+ newcomers in Union County and Newark.
The simplest things are often the most needed and missed: we donated 800 toothbrushes for Afghan evacuees at the NJ Safe Haven (Ft. Dix/McGuire/Lakehurst joint base).
RAP launched a formal, robust volunteer training and preparation program
We launched RAP in 2015 with just a handful or volunteers and over the years have grown to enjoy the talents and support of close to 100! To ensure that we all understand our mission, roles and responsibilities, we launched a formalized training series of four one-hour interactive workshops.
We value the privacy and security of all of our clients and members, so we updated our background check policy and procedure to include One World One Love volunteers with the joint tutoring program as well as RAP alumni who wish to volunteer.
Recognizing the importance of cultural competency in our work, we hosted a Cultural Intelligence training session and disseminated information specific to Afghan culture to all interested RAP volunteers.
RAP fostered new collaboration and strengthened existing partnerships
We literally could not do this alone – the need is too great. Thankfully our joint all-virtual tutoring program with One World One Love entered its second year.
The lack of affordable housing in New Jersey is at crisis level and is particularly challenging for new arrivals. We joined the Affordable Housing Working Group, an informal coalition with Welcome Home Jersey City, One World One Love, and RAMP, to brainstorm and hopefully implement creative housing solutions outside of the traditional landlord-managed apartment rental model.
Eager to align with organizations and individuals who already have ‘boots on the ground’ we joined the NJ Coalition for Afghan Refugees with the Afghan-American Foundation at the helm.
RAP announces our intention for community co-sponsorship
We made the big decision to engage in a co-sponsorship relationship with a family in early 2022 while continuing the joint tutoring program as well as providing extended services at a scaled-back level. Essentially, RAP and its sponsorship partners would be responsible for all aspects of a refugee family’s introduction to life in this country, including housing, employment, education, ESL and cultural acclimation, etc. This is to address what problems we can mitigate among a very small portion of the estimated 65,000 Afghan nationals in the US in need of resettlement.
We’ll be sharing more details in the very near future as our preparation for this great responsibility continues, but there’s much you can do now to assist Afghan refugees. READ HOW YOU CAN HELP.
Camp memories to last a lifetime.
Loading up the backpacks with
Delicious food transcends all cultures.
A few of the workstations we put together for our hard-working students.
A bicycle means independence.
Everybody in the pool!