Disaster Response Team Serves Afghan Evacuees in Albania

November 22, 2021 • Albania

Samaritan’s Purse is providing medical care and baby supplies to displaced Afghan families who have relocated to southern Europe.

Helping Afghan Evacuees

John Silkman, a U.S. military veteran who served in Afghanistan, watched with the world in August as tens of thousands of families desperately fled the Taliban’s return to power. He saw the people clinging to aircraft and climbing over walls; and his heart ached to once again help the Afghan people.

Michelle Mcilveen helps distribute relief items to a mother in need.

DART member Michelle Mcilveen helps distribute relief items to a mother in need.

God gave him that opportunity as Silkman is now leading the Samaritan’s Purse Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) in Albania as we help Afghan evacuees in Jesus’ Name. He says he is grateful to be able to make a difference in the lives of this small community of Afghans.

Samaritan’s Purse has been on the ground in Albania for over six weeks, serving the more than 400 Afghan families who have temporarily resettled along the country’s coastline. Our team of disaster response specialists is distributing critical relief supplies, operating a medical clinic, and facilitating trauma care courses designed to promote healing and healthy conversations.

Many families fled Afghanistan with just the clothes on their backs, leaving behind their homes, careers, basic necessities, and any hope of ever returning to their country. As they seek to provide for their new families in Albania, one of the greatest needs is for diapers and other baby supplies that are either too expensive or unavailable in their host country.

Obaidullah and his daughter receive supplies from our team.

Obaidullah and his daughter receive supplies from our team.

Samaritan’s Purse distributed more than 28,770 diapers to 147 families along with shampoo and baby rash cream. The items are helping meet the physical needs of hurting Afghan families while also providing a sense of hope.

“The first thing that a father and a mother think about for their children are diapers and formula,” said Obaidullah, a father of four children ages 1 to 7. “It is very useful and I appreciate this.”

Silkman has a message to Afghan families as they look to the future: “There is hope. It may feel like there is no hope because you left everything behind, but there is a bright future ahead. We hope that we are planting a seed and that today is just a snapshot that there are better times ahead.”

People are noticing our work. Dostmuhammed, a community leader for one of the six organizations sponsoring Afghan families seeking refuge in Albania, spoke highly of Samaritan’s Purse. “They are bringing medicine, food, hygiene; nobody can do it but Samaritan’s Purse is doing it. They are no less than angels to us.”

Healing and Helping Hands

Parniyan was in her second year of medical school in Afghanistan when the Taliban cut her dreams short. “From childhood, I always dreamed of being a doctor, I’ve never thought of anything else,” she said.

Parniyan is a volunteer translator at our medical clinic.

Parniyan is a volunteer translator at our medical clinic.

She was forced to flee with her family as the Taliban specifically targeted women and those with academic backgrounds. Now, as she and her family seek refuge in Albania, she has been putting her medical knowledge and love for her people to use, serving as a translator at the Samaritan’s Purse medical clinic.

“It was a pleasure volunteering in the Samaritan’s Purse clinic and helping my people in this rough situation,” Parniyan said. “It is a pride for me right now. It feels so good and I am so proud.”

Samaritan’s Purse medical staff opened our clinic, designed to handle the primary care issues of Afghan families, on November 5. Since then, we have treated more than 770 patients, all the while demonstrating God’s love and sharing hope.

“Some of [the patients] have physical problems, such as cough, fever, and these common things but most of them are having mental issues,” Parniyan said. “Most of them are experiencing so many mental issues because of the trauma they have been through.”

Dr. Paul Freel is among our medical team that has already cared for nearly 800 patients.

Dr. Paul Freel is among our medical team that has already cared for nearly 800 patients.

Dr. Paul Freel, one of our DART members, confirms the multifaceted issues these evacuees are facing. “I see patients who have been displaced. I see a lot of emotional overlay to their complaints—a lot of depression, insomnia.”

Though most of the Afghans focus on their physical ailments, he said, they also need to seek help for their emotional distress. That’s why Samaritan’s Purse has brought in a team of trained specialists to teach through a six-week trauma healing course, specially designed for these Afghan families.

“Hopefully with our trauma healing course we will be able to address the real pain that is there, you can see it in everybody,” Dr. Freel said.

Parniyan can already see a big impact from the classes. “Most of our people have never met any foreigner,” she said. “It is so emotional for them seeing someone from another country, another religion, praying for them in another language. That makes them feel like they are cared for.”

In addition to our work in Albania, Samaritan’s Purse is also warmly welcoming Afghan families as they resettle in the United States. We’re providing relief supplies such as clothing, blankets, hygiene kits, solar lamps, baby carriers, and space heaters to families at military bases in Virginia and Wisconsin. Most importantly, our teams around the world are demonstrating God’s love to these families in their time of desperate need.

Please continue to pray for our teams as they work in Jesus’ Name to offer relief to Afghan families in need.

Sharing meals together is a great way for church sponsors and Afghan families to get to know one another and to begin forming friendships.
Helping Afghan Evacuees Samaritan’s Purse is partnering with U.S. churches to help Afghan evacuees make a new home in our country. Our Afghan Resettlement Program matches families in need with local church sponsors who welcome them into their communities. Churches help with cultural orientation, housing, transportation, English learning, and more. In addition, we continue to provide various forms of emergency relief to traumatized and vulnerable Afghans abroad.

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