The Ansar, or the “helpers,” were the local inhabitants of Medina who, in Islamic tradition, provided refuge to Muslims fleeing persecution. The founders of the American Network of Services for Afghan Refugees of Southern California (ANSAR of SoCal) are local organizations in the Southern California region that hope to serve as institutional helpers for new Afghan arrivals by facilitating comprehensive wrap-around services. As we establish this network in the Greater Los Angeles area, we hope to serve as a model for other regions within California and the country on how to provide comprehensive, local wrap-around services in a culturally competent way under the leadership of local Afghan- and Muslim-led organizations.
The objective of the ANSAR of SoCal is to connect new Afghan arrivals with the necessary legal, education and outreach, mental health, housing, and social services needed to reasonably adjust to life in the Greater Los Angeles area. Additionally, the organizations that make up the ANSAR network will serve as social connectors for newly arrived Afghan individuals and families. We look forward to coordinating with federal, state, and local elected officials and governments, local resettlement agencies, and National organizations to best coordinate our local efforts. The ANSAR currently includes the following organizations:
- Afghan American Muslim Outreach (AAMO): AAMO serves the Afghan community through social activism, fostering an Afghan-American Muslim identity, and empowering future generations with the tools to enhance their Islamic knowledge and pursue higher education to better serve their communities. AAMO will chair the education and outreach subcommittee of the ANSAR.
- Afghan American Cultural Center (AACC): AACC provides a forum for all Afghans residing in Southern California to promote unity, harmony and community cohesion amongst themselves, to preserve their Afghan cultural values and traditions, and to transfer it to the future generations of Afghan-Americans. AACC will chair the social connection and integration subcommittee of the ANSAR.
- Council on American-Islamic Relations, Greater Los Angeles (CAIR-LA): CAIR-LA is Southern California’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Our mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice and empower American Muslims. CAIR-LA will chair the legal and advocacy subcommittee of the ANSAR.
- Islamic Shura Council of Southern California: The Islamic Shura Council of Southern California serves as an umbrella organization that advocates for the Muslim organizations and mosques that it represents. They coordinate communication, events, and leadership development within the Muslim community. The Islamic Shura Council will chair the communications subcommittee of the ANSAR.
- Muslim American Society – Greater Los Angeles Chapter (MAS-GLA): MAS is a dynamic charitable, religious, social, cultural, and educational organization that engages with the Muslim community by providing opportunities for community service, interfaith initiatives, and youth programs.
- Qazizada Foundation: Qazizada Foundation offers affordable mental health services to couples, individuals, families, and children in the Orange County and Los Angeles community. They treat a number of mental health disorders, and provide a neutral ground to individuals, families, and couples.
- Sahaba Initiative: The Sahaba Initiative’s philosophy is to empower and sustain families with programs that address mental health issues, poverty, and hunger while also focusing on creating a narrative and culture of service.
- Uplift Charity: Uplift Charity seeks to assist those in need by empowering them with the tools, support and resources to improve their socioeconomic status. They assist those who have recently migrated who have little or no support network.
1. Follow Us on Social Media
2. Opportunities for Individuals
A. Volunteer With ANSAR
ANSAR provides volunteers with a platform to assist Afghan arrivals. Our goal is to contribute to the implementation of a sustainable infrastructure that empowers the integration and social participation of Afghan arrivals in American society. Training for volunteers will be provided and prior experience is not needed. Volunteering with ANSAR includes:
- Providing training sessions for host families/individuals;
- Hosting or assisting at events with Afghan arrivals and locals to initiate dialogue, promote social participation, and raise awareness among our community about the needs of refugees;
- Supporting projects and events that promote cultural education and friendly cohesion among participants, and also helping to integrate them to our SOCAL Muslim Community;
- Assisting Afghan arrivals as they settle into their homes;
- Delivering materials and groceries to Afghan arrivals; and
- Other community volunteering responsibilities as they arise.
B. Become a Buddy
The ANSAR buddy system will team up a new refugee family/individual with a local family/individual to help ease the integration for our new Afghan arrivals. As we welcome our Afghan refugees and help them smoothly integrate into society, we believe that the ANSAR buddy will play a critical role for our new community members. The role includes, but is not limited to:
- Dedicating at least five hours a week to assist the Afghan arrival assigned to you;
- Helping Afghan arrivals become oriented to their new surroundings;
- Acting as the point of contact as they navigate social services;
- Providing transportation for running errands and attending community events;
- Introducing similarly aged children to each other;
- Providing language assistance (if needed); and
- Checking in periodically to make sure they are transitioning well.
C. Become a Legal Volunteer
If you are a lawyer or a law student in the Greater Los Angeles area who can volunteer between four to eight hours in a given week, kindly complete this form to support immigration attorneys assisting members of the Afghan community. You will be contacted via email when support is needed in the coming days and weeks.
3. Opportunities for Organizations
A. Part of a Nonprofit Organization Located in Southern California? Join a Subcommittee
Subcommittee members will strengthen the network’s capacity to serve the needs of Afghan arrivals by contributing their expertise and staff time to accomplish the goals of the network under the leadership of the subcommittee chair. This involves:
- Allocating 5–10 hours a week to organizational staff or board time to the subcommittee;
- Attending monthly ANSAR update meetings;
- Providing public comments, meeting with officials, and assisting in expanding partnerships as needed by the subcommittee;
- Attending live and digital events and calls-to-action.
- Providing feedback on network materials; and
- Amplifying the network’s messaging and communications.
B. Join Our Mailing List
Can’t commit to a subcommittee at the moment, but want to learn more about ANSAR of SoCal’s work and how your organization can support these efforts? Join our email list for organizations in the Southern California region:
IMMIGRATION & POLICY RESOURCES
Stay up-to-date with immigration information by following CAIR-LA’s social media pages and reviewing our advisory.