When Afghanistan fell to the Taliban, many Afghans, some who worked alongside U.S. troops and NGOs (non-profits that operate independently of governments), had to escape due to a real and critical threat to their lives.
Over the past six months, Jewish Family & Children’s Services of Southern Arizona (JFCS) has been working with Afghans who are rebuilding their lives here in Tucson through the federally funded Afghan Survivors Impacted by Combat Program (SASIC).
The SASIC program is designed to support Afghans who have entered the U.S. through Operation Allies Refuge/Operation Allies Welcome and have been impacted individually, or as a family by the effects of combat. Due to the complex mental and physical tolls of combat, paired with the difficulties of adjusting to a new country with entirely foreign systems, Afghan refugees benefit from centralized services that are culturally aware and trauma-informed.
JFCS coordinates with TMCOne to provide comprehensive medical and behavioral health services. JFCS’s trauma counseling to children, teens, and adults is evidenced-based and culturally sensitive to the issues facing the Afghan community. The SASIC program reaches Afghans who have been resettled, not only by JFCS, but also by other agencies in Southern Arizona. JFCS provides additional long-term case management and assists them in accessing other community services. This multi-pronged program coordinated by JFCS will meet the needs of 250 eligible Afghan refugees living in Southern Arizona per year.
One of the essential ways the SASIC program builds wellness and healing is through men’s and women’s support groups and children’s programing. Each of these groups integrates art into the curriculum, which, particularly for those who have experienced trauma, can improve well-being, create better social connections, and a greater sense of belonging in their new community.
The JFCS SASIC team will be hosting their first Art and Culture Exhibit in February, and the Afghan refugees in the program will be invited to display and sell their art or cultural items.