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BK Nonprofit AAFSC Provides Asylum Seekers ‘Second Home’ and More

In the News

Katey St. John


Originally Published in BK Reader

Since the spring of 2022, more than 200,000 asylum seekers have entered New York City.

While government programs struggle to keep up with the growing number of new arrivals, nonprofits like the Arab American Family Support Center have stepped up.

“I put myself in their shoes,” said Nidal Aloubane, AAFSC’s Director of Readiness Initiatives. “When I came to this country, I didn’t have anyone. I didn’t have any friends except my husband… I hoped to find someone just to explain to me the new country, the system, all this stuff.”

AAFSC fills in the gaps by offering classes on U.S. citizenship, English language, parenting, mental health and more.

“We try to cover everything,” Aloubane said. “The information, the resources, whatever they want to know about the new country.”

Through online and in-person classes, one-on-one sessions, and group workshops, the organization makes processes like signing up for food stamps or insurance a little easier to navigate.

A sidewalk with posters on a green wall, one showing a person holding a child, and the other with the text "SHOW BROOKLYN SOME LOVE." The street is in an urban area with buildings and a traffic light.
As people come to New York after a long and terrible journey, they're really just looking for somewhere to go where they can feel a little bit better about themselves in the world around them. I think that's the most important thing we can offer people here. Paul McKenney, Associate Director of Readiness Initiatives, AAFSC

Upon arriving in the U.S., asylum seekers often need basic essentials: toiletries, clothing, shoes and food. To alleviate this, AAFSC does food distributions, which also includes non-food items like deodorant, shampoo and conditioner.

“They need everything. When I say everything, that means everything,” Aloubane said.

The organization also provides migrants with legal help, emotional support, and a place to feel less alone.

“Our agency, for our clients or our students, is like a second home,” Aloubane said.

During a quick intermission in his English class, AAFSC Associate Director of Readiness Initiatives Paul McKenney told BK Reader, “As people come to New York after a long and terrible journey, they’re really just looking for somewhere to go where they can feel a little bit better about themselves in the world around them. I think that’s the most important thing we can offer people here.”

 

This article was made possible through the generous support of Brooklyn Org, allowing us to bring you in-depth coverage of local non-profits working to empower Brooklyn communities. This non-profit organization and others will be featured in Brooklyn Org’s Show Brooklyn Some Love PSA campaign throughout June at sites across Brooklyn.


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