The Afghan Student Association and Bosnian American Student Alliance are hosting a “Resources for Refugees” drive through Friday to support Afghan refugees coming to Nebraska.
The drive started Sept. 13 with bins located at the Nebraska Union, Nebraska East Union and Jackie Gaughan Multicultural Center. All donations will be given to Catholic Social Services.
Household items, such as blankets, hangers, socks, hygiene items and anything that does not expire are all desired. The goal of this drive is to help give Afghan refugee families items to help them rebuild their lives.
Susan Qudus, president of AFSA and a senior biological systems engineering major, has been in contact with social services in Omaha and Lincoln. She said Nebraska is expected to have 500 families start their lives here.
“When they come here, they have nothing more than the clothing on their backs,” she said. “They were not allowed to bring any personal items. They weren’t even thinking about that. All their concern was escaping with their lives.”
Along with hosting the drive, AFSA will have coordinated volunteers to help when Afghan refugees arrive. The volunteers will help with translating, as well as cultural acclimation to American life.
Qudus mentioned that there will be refugees who will enroll at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and a way for students to help would be creating a safe, supportive space for the Afghan refugee students.
Aila Ganić, president of BASA and a senior political science major, understands firsthand how difficult it is to be a refugee, to come to a city and have to restart someone’s entire life.
Her parents were Bosnian refugees, and she explained how providing incoming refugees with the resources to smooth out that transition is vital.
“When we have this humanitarian crisis that feels like it's so far away, I feel like a lot of us students have felt really helpless. Other than donating money and showing support and going to protests, what else can we do?” Ganić said. “With Lincoln being such a big refugee relocation city, providing aid to refugees coming in is such a direct way to help out and do your part during this crisis.”
Ganić said a big way for students to help is by spreading awareness and keeping updated on how the families are when they arrive in Lincoln. She said she understands that it can be hard to follow but that it is important to know what is going on in the world and know when humanitarian crises are happening.
Along with providing donations and support to refugees, both Ganić and Qudus want students to understand what is currently happening in Afghanistan.
“I think understanding that the situation in Afghanistan is more than just a politically inspired event,” Qudus said. “These are actual people who are being affected by people in power making the wrong choices, and they're susceptible to all these foreign nations that are coming in and meddling with their own government.”