UPDATE, FEBRUARY 16, 2023
The Popals have now moved to their new apartment in the Shoreline area! They are excited about the location, as it's just 3 minutes away from friends, plus they've already met another Afghan family in the building (with a boy Mustafa's age!) also newly settling in.
They moved off the Saint Mark's Cathedral campus on Tuesday of last week, and express their sincerest thanks for the warm welcome and many gifts and thoughtful donations received as they begin life in the U.S. Upon arriving in Seattle, they didn't know if refugees would be welcomed, but Fareda recently conveyed with a lot of relief, "this feels like a place for me too!" All of the waves hello in the parking lot, smiles, play-dates with other families with kids, help riding the bus together, Wednesday night dinner in Bloedel, the wonderful help moving to Shoreline, and notes of encouragement have all made a big impact and made them feel like they have a Seattle family here for them. The Saint Mark's community, along with the Diocese of Olympia Refugee Resettlement Office, will continue sponsorship and support of the Popal family as they integrate into life in the U.S.
Here is an updated sign-up sheet of needed items:
Notes of encouragement are also still very much welcomed and go a long way! Thank you for your generosity towards the Popal family.
Here are some snapshots the family took of the kids in the Saint Mark's apartment, and on the Saint Mark's Quilt Ministry quilt! (Click to enlarge.)
UPDATE 1/19/23: The Saint Mark's community responded with overwhelming generosity to the request for household items for the Popal family (note corrected spelling). All the requests for specific items, from baby socks to a laptop, have now been fulfilled. Sajad, Fareda, Mustafa, and Oswa will be living on the cathedral property for some time, so there will be more opportunities to help in the future.
Welcome Popal Family!
Late on the evening of December 28, the Popal family arrived at their new temporary home at Saint Mark’s, where they will be staying for a time on the cathedral campus. Saint Mark’s is providing them emergency housing until they get their bearings, and we will support them in the months to come as they make the transition.
They arrived with lots of smiles and excitement to be in Seattle after 22 long hours of travel with a toddler and baby! The family consists of Sajad, Fareda, their son Mustafa (2 years old) and daughter Oswa (4 months old). Since their arrival, the Popals have been settling in, getting acquainted with the surrounding neighborhood, focusing on English studies and making plans for their new life in the U.S.
If you see them out and about the cathedral campus, don’t hesitate to extend to them a warm welcome and greetings! They welcome the interaction with the Saint Mark’s community and are grateful for the kindness and hospitality of many since their arrival.
A little about them and hopes for the future
In Afghanistan, Sajad worked as an electrician and hopes to eventually work in that field again. Fareda is a graduate of Kabul University with a focus in legal studies. She worked as an attorney and most recently as a judge. She spent her first year as a judge working in criminal courts, and then three years making judgements on domestic abuse cases. When the government fell into Taliban hands, women judges were immediately at high risk. Fareda describes the day of the Taliban takeover as an “unreal dream.” (This podcast episode telling the stories of women judges in Afghanistan will give some idea of the danger she experienced.) Fareda hopes to find work and obtain a master’s degree. She is researching scholarship opportunities.
The Popals went into hiding for one month until Fareda’s international association of women judges was able to help them escape to a refugee camp in United Arab Emirates, where they remained for over a year. Both Sajad and Fareda have close family members in Afghanistan at very high risk due to their past work with American military forces, and are awaiting evacuation opportunities.
How to help
The Popals are sponsored by the Diocese of Olympia’s Refugee Resettlement Office with support from the Saint Mark’s community. However, they left their country with few belongings and are rebuilding their household with two small children, so there’s lot’s to do! They have identified their highest needed items. To assist with new or gently used items, please see the sign-up page here. (UPDATE 2/23: a new sign up is now available) Please review the available home and clothing items and click on the button to sign up. Items may be new or gently used and dropped off at the Saint Mark's Cathedral front desk or in the donation bin in the cookie corner of the nave. Sign-ups will be available through Thursday, January 26. The donation bin will be out until January 31. Thank you!
If you wish to be added to the Refugee/Sanctuary ministry group communications, and receive further updates on ways to walk alongside the Popal family as they integrate into U.S. life, please email Rev. Emily Austin, Deacon, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Kathy Sodergren and I will be providing updates.