Suburban Mosaic: What I learned from breaking bread with an Afghan refugee family

  • Amid mouthfuls of traditional Afghan mantu dumplings and Kabuli pulao, and sipping green tea as a guest of a new Afghan refugee family, we talked about the commonalities of our cultures, cuisines and customs of hospitality and how new Afghan refugees lack the support they need here.

      Amid mouthfuls of traditional Afghan mantu dumplings and Kabuli pulao, and sipping green tea as a guest of a new Afghan refugee family, we talked about the commonalities of our cultures, cuisines and customs of hospitality and how new Afghan refugees lack the support they need here. Madhu Krishnamurthy | Staff Photographer

  • Traditional Afghan mantu dumplings and Kabuli pulao were among the treats I was invited to share during an iftar meal with a new Afghan refugee family.

      Traditional Afghan mantu dumplings and Kabuli pulao were among the treats I was invited to share during an iftar meal with a new Afghan refugee family. Madhu Krishnamurthy | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 5/2/2022 9:16 AM

A few of my friends and I informally have adopted an Afghan refugee family of eight who arrived in the Chicago area nearly six months ago.

The family -- a mother and father and their six children ages 30 to 16 -- had been split up and housed in U.S. military-run refugee camps in Wisconsin and Virginia since they left their homeland for a new life.

 

Though I had met the family only once, they invited my friend, her husband and I to an iftar --­ fast-breaking meal ­-- Friday night during the last few days of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

We were humbled by their heartwarming hospitality and enthusiastically savored the delectable spread of Afghan culinary staples, such as the traditional bolani stuffed flatbread, mantu dumplings, and Kabuli pulao.

Amid mouthfuls of such delights and sipping green tea afterward, our conversation meandered from the commonalities of our cultures, cuisines and customs of hospitality, to the importance of cricket and soccer, to ultimately how new Afghan refugees lack the support they need here.

Unlike how the U.S. government has launched a online portal for sponsoring Ukrainian refugees, no such platform was created for the Afghans who arrived here following U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan last August.

by signing up you agree to our terms of service
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

U.S. military bases housing thousands of Afghan refugees were emptied earlier this spring. Now, those refugees are being resettled across the country where they can find permanent residences and work.

Illinois already has received 1,600 Afghan refugees and is expecting 200 more. Yet, finding jobs, permanent housing, accessible medical care, transportation and even flexible English classes have been a challenge, according to volunteers supporting them.

Anyone interested in volunteering or helping welcome Afghan refugees needing support in the Chicago area and suburbs can join the Facebook group Refugee Community Connection.

'Eid Mubarak'

Muslims across the suburbs and world are celebrating Eid al-Fitr Monday, the feast day marking the end of the fasting period for the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Suburban mosques and Islamic centers will be hosting congregational Eid prayers this morning at their facilities and other public venues, such as the Bartlett Community Center, Hanover Park Park District, Canlan Sports Complex in Libertyville and Embassy Suites in Naperville. Prayers will be followed by festivities including visiting the homes of relatives and friends and exchanging gifts.

The Mecca Center in Willowbrook is inviting families to join its Eid celebration from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Safari Land, 701 W. North Ave., Villa Park. Families can participate in unlimited rides and arcade games for $20 per person.

Celebrating AAPI heritage

In 1978, a joint congressional resolution established Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week in the first 10 days of May. Its timing coincided with the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants on May 7, 1843, and the contributions of Chinese workers toward building the Transcontinental Railroad, completed May 10, 1869, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

In 1992, Congress made it a monthlong celebration now known as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month observed in May.

Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin will mark the occasion with a virtual Zoom forum from 7 to 8 p.m. May 10, with a group of Asian community members sharing engaging stories of culture and tradition.

Cinco de Mayo

Huntley will host a "Ladies Night Out: Cinco de Mayo Celebration" from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the Huntley Town Square.

Sponsored by the village and downtown businesses, the event will include food, special deals and promotions at local venues, and raffle drawings. No registration required.

The first 200 people to check-in at the Legion Hall, 11712 Coral St., will receive extra treats. Arrive at Legion Hall at 5 p.m. to receive a game card and map listing participating businesses.

A Mariachi band will perform in the Town Square from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Stopping harassment

New legislation proposed in the U.S. House, Stop Sexual Harassment in K-12 Act, aims to help combat sexual harassment and assault in K-12 schools by creating clear standards and funding streams for schools to uphold students' Title IX rights.

One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. A 2019 study by the Journal of Sexual Abuse found that 10% of students in kindergarten through 12th grade will be subjected to sexual abuse or misconduct by school employees, and students who are low-income, female, and in high school are most likely to be targeted.

A 2021 Journal of School Violence analysis found more than 85% of U.S. K-12 schools reported zero allegations of sexual harassment.

Color of Care

On Sunday night, Oprah Winfrey's "The Color of Care" documentary highlighting racial disparities in the American health care system premiered on the Smithsonian Channel.

The 90-minute film collaboratively was produced by the Smithsonian Channel, Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Productions and Yance Ford, who is the director. It chronicles the systematically substandard health care for people of color in the United States -- spotlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic which disproportionately affected communities of color.

It will be followed by a yearlong campaign bringing together affected communities, medical and nursing schools, health care workers and policymakers to find a solution to health inequities.

• Share stories, news and happenings from the suburban mosaic at mkrishnamurthy@dailyherald.com.

0 Comments
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Get articles sent to your inbox.

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.