CDS volunteers help welcome Afghan children and families evacuated to the US

By Lisa Crouch

The month of September has been a busy one for Children’s Disaster Services (CDS). With pandemic protocols in place, CDS volunteer teams have been responding to many requests to serve.

As part of a historic airlift, CDS volunteers were a valuable asset in welcoming Afghan evacuees into the United States at Dulles International Airport (Virginia) and nearby expo center for eight days earlier this month. Through a partnership with Save the Children, the Dulles CDS team worked with 100 to 200 children at a time in the small play area while they awaited transportation information to their next stop.

Upon returning from this deployment, one CDS volunteer wrote how much she enjoyed working with the wonderful and resilient Afghani children, noting that even with the challenges, they were sweet, kind, funny, and mostly full of hope for the future. Another CDS team member said, “It is a rewarding time being able to see the smiles and laughter.”

A CDS volunteer with children affected by Hurricane Ida in Louisiana. Photo by Crystal Baker

Two CDS teams have deployed to Fort Bliss, Texas, to support “Operation Allies Welcome,” the US government program to welcome Afghans as they resettle in the US. Nearly 10,000 Afghan evacuees are being housed at the base while awaiting resettlement. Of this number, more than 3,000 are children. CDS teams there have been seeing between 100 to 300 child contacts per day. CDS plans to continue providing support at Fort Bliss through October.

In other CDS news, two teams responded to Hurricane Ida serving in both Baton Rouge and New Orleans, La. The initial CDS team completed its 14-day assignment and the second team returned home this week after seeing numbers of children in the shelters diminishing. Over the course of about 21 days, CDS served 262 children affected by the hurricane.

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– Lisa Crouch is associate director of Children’s Disaster Services, a ministry within Brethren Disaster Ministries.


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