Sozo International to Open Outreach Center in Queens, NYC
Sozo International is excited to announce plans to expand our work with Afghans by establishing an Outreach Center in NYC, where there is a community of more than 35,000 Afghans.
"We believe this opportunity to serve the sizable community of Afghans living in Queens, NY, will strengthen our primary efforts in Afghanistan, while also having a positive impact here at home," explains Wakil, Sozo's Director of International Operations. "I currently live part-time in NYC with my family, spending half my time in the USA and half in Afghanistan. I see the needs of those seeking to build a happy life and working to belong and succeed in this country. It's a natural extension of Sozo's work to replicate programs here that are working in Afghanistan. We have developed strong relationships within the Queens community that we can leverage. It should strengthen the influence of our organization on many levels, while fitting perfectly with the goals of Sozo to equip, empower, and encourage Afghans."
Tina Bruner, Sozo's Executive Director shares with us, "There is much to be learned from Afghans living in NYC that can help us, and our supporters, understand the cultural influences and issues facing Afghans living in Kabul. By developing deeper relationships with Afghans in NYC, we hope to have a greater reach and impact in Kabul as families share information about Sozo with their loved ones. Plus, having a locally-based outreach makes it more accessible—and likely—for our supporters to serve as part of short-term trips to Queens. We are excited about the possibilities to connect them more closely in relationship with Afghans, and ultimately to our work. What we do and where we serve is difficult, and is not possible without the support and strength of so many who back us with their prayers, time, and financial resources."
Sozo envisions connecting with Afghans in NYC through programs such as English classes, tutoring students, assisting with resources and services in times of need, holding small group activities and studies (many of the programming elements we do in Afghanistan will be easy to implement here at home). While there are many of the same realities in NYC among Afghans, we anticipate that there will be more opportunities for relationships leading to holistic transformation. Afghans in the US are in regular contact with friends and families back home. We hope that as they experience new life in the US that they will share with those still in Afghanistan and make connections for us to be in relationship with their families there. As we serve in Queens, we see a great benefit in piloting new approaches for sharing life and hope that could then be implemented into our work in Afghanistan, as well.
Our goal of seeing real transformation through equipping, empowering, and encouraging Afghans is the same in New York City as in Afghanistan.
More People Can Connect and Share Sozo’s Work:
Support and involvement are essential to our long-term success—there is strength in numbers. We have a heart for Afghanistan and see how lives there continue to be transformed through our organization. It is a difficult place where we are called to serve, and there are inherent challenges for many of our supporters to connect on a personal level. Being able to work with Afghans domestically will provide opportunities that do not currently exist:
Short-Term Teams: Short-term teams can visit and connect with Afghans in a more familiar environment here at home. Groups of high school and college students, families with younger children, seniors—basically those who can’t or wouldn’t otherwise travel to Afghanistan—will be able to personally engage. We see short-term teams in Queens facilitating sports clinics for kids, participating in prayer walks, helping with small home and car repairs, and so much more! We are planning for short-term team visits as early as next Spring! Plan to be part of one of these trips by contacting Amanda at sozointernational.org.
Immersive Staff Training: Serving Afghans in NYC will be an important way potential long-term team members can be immersed in the culture as part of their training, while the experience will also provide a platform for their own discernment. All future long-term team candidates will spend time with Sozo in NYC as part of their preparation and training process prior to going to Afghanistan. If you or someone you know might be interested in serving with us, please contact me at Tina at sozointernational.org.
And finally, in today’s political climate we feel urged to reach out in love to Afghans seeking to belong by coming alongside them in their new home country. Americans intentionally engaging with Afghan and other ethnic communities to develop relationships can work to bridge gaps and mutual misunderstanding, reducing fear and increasing hope.
We need and ask for your continued support:
Pray for us as we learn, grow, face challenges, and seek to develop trust with the Afghan community in NYC. In the predominantly Muslim community, please also pray for open doors with any of our neighbors.
Pray about ways you, your family, small group, church, etc., might plug into the work in the expansion. Please let us know if you’d like to be added to an update list.
Pray for strong connections to be made between Sozo’s work in NYC and Afghanistan.
Help us financially with startup costs and budgetary needs as we launch this expansion.