Community members support local Afghan refugees

Teams of organizations, individuals help refugee families thrive


Graphic Marygrace Sarrasin

Both Northborough and Southborough are supporting Afghan refugee families in various ways.

Marygrace Sarrasin, Assistant News Editor

Members of the Northborough and Southborough communities have opened their arms and homes since January to assist local Afghan refugees as they flee from Taliban control in Afghanistan. 

The Taliban, an Islamic fundamentalist group, overtook the Afghanistan government in 2021, and continues to gain power and oppress citizens, especially women. Some of the recently enforced restrictions include requiring women to be completely covered in public, not allowing women to have jobs, and not welcoming women outside of their homes. 

In response to Taliban control and restrictions, over 74,000 Afghans have sought refuge in the United States within the first six months of the Taliban taking power. Two Afghan families have moved to Northborough and Southborough in recent months, and multiple families and organizations have worked to help these refugees.

The Probsts host an Afghan family in their home

The Probst Family of Southborough, Massachusetts, opened their home to an Afghan refugee family of four in Jan. of this year, which soon became a family of five when the mother gave birth to a baby in February. This growing family needed a place to reside, and ARHS senior Reed Probst’s family stepped up to assist them. 

“When the United States pulled out of Afghanistan my family started realizing that there are going to be a ton of refugees coming over, “ Probst said. “I don’t know what initially prompted them to do this, but I think my parents recognized the situation and they saw that we had space in our home.”

The Probsts are fortunate to have a recently finished basement, where the refugee family has access to all necessary accommodations. The family consists of the two parents, 6 year old daughter, 3 year-old son, and newborn baby, who Probst looks forward to spending time with each day. 

The Probst family are working to help the refugees be completely independent, with hopes of achieving this goal around summer of 2022. The family has already made immense progress, with the father maintaining a job, the children in public school and daycare and the whole family learning English.

The Probsts enjoy hosting this family and have gained the support of their community.

“I think the best thing for me is just seeing the whole community come together and help them out,” Probst said. “We have people giving them rides, bringing them to the store, teaching the kids and parents English and so many people have come to volunteer. It’s been great to see all of that happen.” 

With all the challenges and rewards this experience has brought him, Probst hopes to continue doing these types of projects in the future. 

The Northborough Neighborhood Support Team assists Afghan mother and son

The Northborough Neighborhood Support Team (NST) is a volunteer group working to assist a local Afghan refugee family of two, a single mother and her son. 

After members of Trinity Church of Northborough learned about Ascentria, an organization that helps resettle Afghan families until they are in a definite living situation, they created a team of roughly 20 people to 30 people. Shortly after beginning fundraising, the NST was assigned a family to prioritize and aid in their transition to American life.

ARHS Social Studies Department Head Brittany Burns is a proud member of the NST’s Fundraising and Finance Team. She said their overall goal is to support the family for as long as they can. 

“Our goal in the end is to be able to support a family from six months to one year, and right now it looks like we will be able to support them for a year, which is really exciting,” Burns said. 

The NST is taking steps similar to the Probsts, such as helping the family learn English, getting the parent a job and enrolling her in driving lessons. Recently, the NST painted, cleaned and finalized an apartment for the family, which they just moved into after residing with a member of the team. 

The NST hopes to reach their goal of raising $50,000, and are happy to report they have almost achieved that. As the group continues to work, Burns is proud of her team and her community. 

“For me it’s about what I want this community to look like, and I want this community to be a place that’s welcoming, where people feel at home in the same way that my daughter and I felt when we moved here,” Burns said. “Part of it is making the place you live, the place you want to live.” 

Ways to donate and other information can be found on the Northborough Neighborhood Support Team website

The Interact Club lends a hand through donations

Separate from the NST, the Interact Club, an affiliate of the Rotary Club of Northborough for teens grades 7-12, recently ran a donation drive at Algonquin for the refugee family currently living in Northborough. Club president Cynthia Rajeshkanna and adviser Jean Cahill work together to achieve the Interact Club’s goals. 

“The Interact Club was interested to help and volunteered to gather supplies needed by families resettling in this area,” Cahill said. “They reached out to the NST as well as the resettlement agency Ascentria, and the Ansaar of Worcester, to find out what families need at this time.” 

Projects like this are not uncommon for the Interact Club as members work to aid their community and other struggling communities as best they can. This two week long drive was able to collect roughly 70 items for the refugee family, which includes supplies such as cleaning materials, kitchen and bath supplies and other necessities. 

Students interested in getting involved or learning more about the Interact Club should contact Rajeshkanna.