On August 16, 2021, the Kabul airport was a scene of discord and panic as Afghanistan residents and Americans alike rushed to flee the region as the Taliban assumed its rule. On August 17, the Truckee Meadows flooded our organization with offers to help.
As the resettlement manager for UNR’s Northern Nevada International Center (NNIC), the leader in Nevada’s global engagement efforts, my team and I were aware of relations oversees prior to August 16. We recognized the quickly approaching need for our organization to help resettle those displaced citizens who might be seeking a happier, more stable life after their years of service to America. Among many responsibilities, our organization helps facilitate resettlement for many displaced persons from around the globe. When the news of Kabul broke — and subsequent headlines of Afghan refugees, Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders and asylum seekers began dominating social media feeds— NNIC began fielding an overwhelming number of requests from concerned Nevadans, asking how they could help.
In a world that often feels like each day presents us with scarier, darker headlines, these phone calls emboldened our team and reminded us that the Truckee Meadows is a place where kind hearts prevail and citizens who value action over talk make up the majority.
Reno, Sparks, and Tahoe friends have come out in droves in support of the NNIC’s efforts to provide sanctuary for incoming families. So much so that, within a day or two, we realized we would need to clean out our storage unit to make room for incoming donations. A day or so later, we realized we might need even more storage space. And still calls came in: offering space within homes, donated meals, well-kept furniture and the all-important, transferable gift of financial assistance. The community has stepped up to help us offer a shoulder for Afghans to lean on at this most difficult time. I speak on behalf of my team when I say that we are honored to have fielded so much concern and help.
Prior to August’s events in Afghanistan, the NNIC’s refugee resettlement program has transformed the lives of more than 223 displaced people since 2016. We provide individuals and families with a mentor group (containing 10 to 15 core participants) to aid in assimilating them into their new, foreign environment and to help them reach full self-sufficiency. Additionally, the youth mentoring program pairs young refugees (ages 15 to 23) with an adult from the northern Nevada community to support them in their personal and professional lives. In a time of much trepidation for what the future holds for the welfare of Afghanistan and its citizens, the NNIC is able to hold its arms wide to embrace this vulnerable population — one running from the only life they’ve known — because of you.
If you’re interested in supporting this work, there are several powerful ways you can do so:
- Call your elected officials. There is a lot of misinformation circulating and elected officials need to understand this community wants to embrace our Afghan friends, not turn them away. Find more at https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials.
Follow our social media to understand our real-time requests for in-kind and financial gifts that will make a quick difference at Northern Nevada International Center | Facebook.
Join us at our 22nd Annual Global Gala: Connecting Reno’s Global Family on October 15 at the National Automobile Museum. A portion of the profits from this event will be used to resettle Afghan populations. Global Gala | University of Nevada, Reno (unr.edu)
Volunteer to help resettle refugees in northern Nevada. Those interested can find that information here.
To learn more about NNIC’s work with Afghan refugees, SIVs, and other services from the nonprofit (including exchange programs, language translation and interpretation services), visit www.unr.edu/nnic.