SYRACUSE , N.Y. (NCC News)– As New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said New York State will be receiving 1,143 Afghan refugees in the next six months, 248 have started to arrive in Syracuse. One Syracuse Afghan family is taking power into their own hands to help refugees in need.
For the past several weeks, the Tajik family has been cooking and serving meals to raise money for charities that provide shelter for displaced Afghan families in Onondaga County and abroad.
“We decided to connect the community here and have them help us, to help our people,” said Tamana Tajik. “It’s very much a still unfolding situation happening in Afghanistan.”
Tajik said she came up with the idea because she wanted to give back to her people in need.
So far with only two events down, they have raised $15,000.
“Many people are in a situation where they don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow,” said Tajik. “People are being killed for no reason.”
The Tajik family is from Kurdz, Afghanistan, and have been living in Syracuse for five years. Before New York, the family had lived in Pakistan, Iran and Romania. However, back at home Tajik’s father was fighting in the Afghan Armed Forces. In April of this year, he was killed by the Taliban.
The Tajik family said they have found a place where they can continue their education. Tajik recently graduated from Onondaga County Community College and is pursuing her bachelor’s degree at Le Moyne College in biology.
Catholic Charities of Onondaga County and Interfaith Works, two local nonprofits, are helping resettle refugees in Syracuse. Last week, the organizations said it is building a flexible fund to address the needs for refugees but right now they need immediate essentials.
Skaneateles United Methodist Church Pastor, Justin Hood says getting involved with the Tajik family’s mission was a no brainer when he saw their first event with Salt City Market.
“People talk about all the things that divide us, and it’s no nice to see everybody rally around the same cause,” said Hood. “You can tell this issue is weighing heavy on Tamana’s heart so, we’re going to support this mission.”
Before getting in contact with Pastor Hood, the Tajik family started this journey with market manager of Salt City Market, Adam Sudmann.
Sudmann worked with the Tajik family before with his My Lucky Tummy popups in Syracuse cooking traditional cuisines. So, when Tamana had the idea of the Afghanistan Refugee Fund, Sudmann was all for it.
“It largely came down to urgency, serendipity and community. We were enormously affected by the news, images and stories coming out of Afghanistan. It felt like a perfect opportunity to connect with our community and feel, in some small, modest way– useful,” said Sudmann. “We’re always on the lookout for opportunities to be useful.”
Tajik hopes this brings not only her own Afghan community together but the Syracuse community as well.
“If you see an Afghan refugee walking in the grocery store or around just say hi. Just welcome them because they’ve been through a lot,” Tajik said. “Welcome them to a new life, tell them that they are safe here now.”