The Upper Valley Neighborhood Support Team (UVNST) formed in October 2021, to share our local abundance with Afghan evacuees. This collaboration, in partnership with Ascentria Care Alliance in New Hampshire, began in Lyme and quickly, organically grew to involve individuals, organizations, and businesses across the Upper Valley. As a partner in this regional effort, CommunityCare of Lyme launched the Welcome Fund to accept donations and provide financial support for displaced individuals settling across the Upper Valley.
It’s been a full and life changing several months – for our new neighbors and many, many community members! Together, we have directly supported the resettlement of 18 Afghans and connected a Cuban family with local housing. We are now accompanying a small family and three individual men on their journeys to self-sufficiency and community involvement:
Behishta is a 27-year-old new Dartmouth masters student with a 5-year-old daughter starting Kindergarten and twins born in February. Her husband is in Turkey, unable to work in the US at this time. Dozens of volunteers provide rides, food, babysitting, clothing and other material needs, dental care, immigration guidance, driving lessons, and help to access community and state benefits. A car has been donated. A full scholarship for 9 weeks of summer camp was gifted to the family. Still, ongoing, substantial financial support is necessary to cover rent, formal child care, so many diapers, and other life necessities. Read her story.
The men, aged 29-49, are Afghan soldiers who were embedded with the U.S. Army at the Pakistan border. They spoke no English on arrival. In beautiful collaboration with the leadership and teams at Hotel Coolidge and Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital, the men are working more than full time to pay their rent, food, and health insurance, while they send money home to their families struggling in Afghanistan. They speak with their wives, children and other family members every day. With substantial volunteer and organizational support, they are learning English, participating in the local Muslim community, preparing for their driving tests, continuing to work through immigration cases, and making real friends. Read their story.