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Muncie Afghan Refugee Resettlement Committee (MARRC) was a subcommittee of AWAKEN. From September 2021 to October 2022, MARRC helped resettled over 120 Afghan refugees within East-Central Indiana through the amazing support of the local community.

MARRC is ending October 31, 2022. MARRC completed its mission of 6 months of urgent resettlement assistance for Afghan refugees. Thank you so much for all of your amazing contribution and support.

Success of MARRC - Letter from our Founder

To My Dear and Respected Community, 

I feel very blessed to be a part of this community. Muncie opened their arms to my husband and I over forty years ago when we arrived as refugees from Afghanistan.  In 2002, we established AWAKEN to help the women and children of Afghanistan.  Together, with our community, we have made a difference in the lives of tens of thousands of Afghan families.  Thank you so very much for your generosity and support.

In August of last year, as the Taliban invaded Kabul and the US troops withdrew, many Afghans fled the country.  When I heard that the State of Indiana was bringing 7,000 refugees to Camp Atterbury, I knew that I could not sit idle, and that I had to do something.  After speaking with Exodus Refugee Immigration Inc., Catholic Charities of Indianapolis, and the U.S. State Department, I understood that this was truly an emergency and that the refugees' need for housing and resettlement was great.  I knew that my amazing Delaware County community had the resources and the people to help, as many friends were reaching out to me to see if there was anything to be done.  I felt like the best thing to do was to bring everyone together under one umbrella to maximize our positive impact for these Afghans that had left everything behind.  This became the start of a new journey.

On September 4, 2021 – just a few weeks after the Taliban captured Kabul – I held the very first meeting with friends Dr. Miriam Ibrahim and Dr. Ashraf Abou El-Ezz to organize a committee to help the Afghan families arriving in Indianapolis.  We realized that we needed to act fast.  On September, 11th, a second meeting included Julia and Bob Wadsworth, members of the First Presbyterian Church.  We drafted goals and decided that this committee would be organized under AWAKEN.  It would be called MARRC- Muncie Afghan Refugee Resettlement Committee.  On September 15th, a third meeting was held at the Islamic Center of Muncie.  Over 25 community leaders representing the Mayor’s office, churches, synagogue, businesses, and other organizations discussed how to help our Afghan sisters and brothers.  I was incredibly overjoyed that everyone attending was willing to help on such short notice.  This response confirmed my belief in Muncie as a strong, supportive community, with people willing to go the extra mile for others in need. 

MARRC's mission was to assist Afghan refugees, our “New Neighbors”, resettle and thrive in Delaware County. Our aim was to bring together community volunteers and representatives of government and businesses to ensure that systems and structures of assistance were in place.  The amount of work to be done was tremendous – and we took a holistic approach to ensure that we covered all needs of our New Neighbors.  MARRC was composed of several sub-committees, each led by volunteer members of our community, addressing fundraising, housing, wellness, essentials, employment, education, and other areas.  Each refugee family was assigned a local volunteer Welcome Family.  Grants provided translators and caseworker services.  This approach helped us to bring even more families here and was critical to our mission of helping our New Neighbors thrive and become independent members of the Muncie community.

The support from our community has allowed MARRC to accept 33 families (115 people).  Many New Neighbors are now gainfully employed, some even working more than one job.  Several refugees have filled the gaps at businesses that were experiencing a lack of workforce.  Approximately eighteen refugees have received their driver's licenses and fifteen have their learner’s permit.  Over 60 children are enrolled in the Muncie Community School system, and with the incredible support of MCS and staff, 31 women and men are attending English as a Second Language classes.  Sewing machines and supplies were generously donated to all of the women, who meet regularly for sewing lessons, educational workshops, and fellowship.  Moreover, our New Neighbors are already giving back to their new community, volunteering for Second Harvest Food Bank, Habitat for Humanity, and assisting others within their refugee community.

It would be very difficult to name all the individuals and organizations that supported MARRC’s mission. For those that have been a part of this incredible journey, I want to thank each of you from the bottom of my heart.  Many local churches, service clubs, banks, medical/social services organizations, manufacturing, and other businesses, as well as many organizations outside of Delaware County, donated funds as well as services, space, etc. to help our New Neighbors.  Many individuals made monetary donations, and we received strong support from local foundations.  Lastly, none of this would have been possible without the MARRC volunteers and Welcome Families who donated countless hours of their time and energy supporting our New Neighbors.  I am confident that their support was among the best in the country, for which I am very proud and grateful.

At the end of October, MARRC will have completed our original goal of providing six months of urgent assistance to refugee families in Muncie.  We are fortunate to live and work in a community where many people and organizations are willing to help and to go “above and beyond.”  Over the past few months, we have been thinking about what the future of refugee support can look like in Muncie.  We met with Exodus Refugee Immigration about the possibility of opening an office in Muncie so as not to “re-invent the wheel”.  Sadly, Exodus, with overwhelming commitments elsewhere, was unable to grant our request.  I also met with the Mayor of Muncie as the situation in the Ukraine escalated.  We began discussing the idea of creating an organization that would welcome refugees to Delaware County from around the world.  While MARRC will come to an end after completing our mission, we feel honored to have established a strong foundation of best practices for our community and for other cities and towns across the United States.  I have been contacted by friends and leaders in other parts of the country to learn more about MARRC’s structure and success.

At the beginning of this mission, my dream was for my community to come together and accomplish results on a larger scale-and my dream came true!  Thank you so much for your kindness, generosity, financial support, and prayers.  All of this was possible through the blessing of the amazing volunteers of MARRC.  You have truly shown Hoosier hospitality to our new neighbors and friends, and I feel proud and honored to be a part of this community.  I hope that the story of MARRC and how our small community came together to accomplish so much can serve as inspiration for similar work in the future.

At the end of October, AWAKEN will close its committee MARRC and we will shift 100% of our focus toward helping the people in Afghanistan, as the situation has only worsened over the past year.  Through the power of community, I hope to rely on your continuing support in providing essential services and emergency food and water relief to Afghan families in dire need.

 

 

Sincerely,

Bibi Bahrami

Founder and President

AWAKEN, Inc. - Afghan Women’s and Kids’ Education and Necessities, Inc.