Indian community group ‘pays it forward’ to Afghan refugees

CLEVELAND — As an Indian immigrant, Gauri Wagle said she understands the difficulty of moving to a new country. She donated boxes full of essentials to help Afghan refugees start their lives here in Ohio.

What do you want to know

  • Project Seva is a service group that is part of the Federation of Community Associations of India
  • Gauri Wagle said organizing donation campaigns and providing meals to the community
  • She said they partnered with the American Committee for Refugees and Immigrants to help refugees in northeast Ohio.

“In the boxes we have clothes, sheets, duvets, pillows, basic necessities that the refugees need for their daily life,” Wagle said as he packed up his car.

Wagle volunteers with Project Seva, which is part of the Federation of Community Associations of India. She said they want to provide a warm welcome to refugees, from one immigrant community to another.

“Most Indians get a very good education. They are highly respected with good jobs and somehow knowing their immigrant roots they can pay it where they want the refugees coming in [to] feel welcome,” Wagle said. “They want them to be in the community productively, to get good jobs, to settle down and [the] the future, I hope they can pay it back.

Wagle said his group is rallying members of the association’s community to serve the next batch of newcomers in conjunction with the American Committee for Refugees and Immigrants in Cleveland.

“We coordinate with USRI for families arriving for hot meals, for necessary errands, for any requirements. Whether it’s winter jackets, quilts, bedding, we’re in constant contact with them,” Wagle said.

She said their partnership with the committee has been valuable so far. They provided nearly 200 meals, organized fundraisers and also offered development classes as part of their Shiksha Daan program.

“So ‘shiksha’ means education and ‘daan’ means giving. So it is a gift of education. So we have people volunteering or getting in touch with USRI [sic] to provide English or mentorship to these refugees,” Wagle said.

Wagle added that members of his organization also wanted to help refugees find jobs in one of the many Indian companies in the area.

If your organization is interested in partnering with USCRI, please visit their website.

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