April brought the holy time of Ramadan for Haroon and Sakina and the girls. This has meant fasting from food and water during the day for grown-ups and extra prayer times. This presents an extra challenge when the dad works 12 hours overnight! The ten or so resettling-from-Afghanistan families at the apartment complex were recipients of wonderful trays of prepared rice and meat and other gifts from sponsoring agencies and from the Muslim community. Oak Grove shared Cub Food gift cards in honor of our Holy Week and Easter celebrations in April!
Of the ten or so Afghanistan families in the apartment complex, only one other family has a co-sponsor. So, as you can imagine, we have had the wonderful opportunity to interact with folks from other apartments. On most Saturdays, Karen and Fred Alonzi take a group to Cub and a halal store for weekly groceries. Transportation is an ongoing need. While they are near light rail and bus stops, there are limits to where they can go and the time it takes can be prohibitive. So, rides to stores or appointments are really helpful. Whenever there’s a chance for a community outing (Hello, Como Zoo!) it is so gratefully received! In addition to our family of Mom, Dad and girls (4 and 2), we’ve become close to five other families at the complex.
All families have 6-month leases set to expire in July, so there is some stress now about where they are next going to find affordable housing. This apartment complex is too expensive for most families to stay. Having other resettling families in the complex has been a real support so there is sadness that another separation is likely at hand. Our partner family is working through their budget and deciding where they will move next.
Having arrived here in early January, our family is finally experiencing Minnesota as a good-weather state! Perhaps there are ways Oak Grovers might consider other sharing with our newest neighbors? Karen and Fred Alonzi, Sue Greimel, Kathy Howell and Anne and Larry Klueh have been directly interacting with these friends, on behalf of all of us at Oak Grove, and any of them would be happy to visit with you about ways you might like to become involved. Please feel free to start a conversation!
Some wish list items (new or gently used) include:
- Sandals (children’s size 8 or 9 & 11 or 12)
- Lightweight socks
- Outdoor toys (that aren’t TOO big)
- Men’s bicycles, helmets, locks, lights*
- Children’s summer clothing (Size 2/3 and 4/5)
- Area Rug (7–8’ x 10’—or chance to pick out at Menard’s?)
- Vacuum (for a family without a co-sponsor and awaiting paperwork to start working a $20/hour job that is waiting for him)
*We have someone willing to provide tune-ups/maintenance, if you have the bikes! Please contact Cathy Colborn (952-237-6012) for details!
Money and gift cards are a way to give the power of choice to families if this is something you’re able to consider. Currently, Target and Burlington Coat Factory are a short distance away. Any donations can be brought or mailed to the church office with the notation “Afghan Partners” and the group listed above will distribute them. Any items that are not able to be used by our partner family will be shared with other families who will gratefully make good use of them.
Thank you, Oak Grove, for your steadfastness in this partnership!