A warm welcome to Harrow

A partnership or local organisations have come together along with a number of generous residents who donated to the Harrow Afghan Refugee Appeal. 

The plight of Afghan refugees may have fallen out of the headlines recently, but three local community organisations – one working out of a popular local restaurant – remain incredibly active supporting this community.

Two of the charities – the Afghan Association of London and Afghan Association Paiwand ­– have been working with Harrow’s large British Afghan community for many years. Their prominent support for local Afghans has made a real difference in areas including educational attainment, mental health and employment.

They provide invaluable advice services, counselling, advocacy and help for their clients with housing. They tackle issues affecting women and young people, and bring everyone together in a range of sporting activities, including football, cricket, martial arts and chess.

Both charities were well placed to respond to the refugee crisis as it unfolded and support those affected in Harrow. Paiwand’s Executive Manager, Fahima Zaheen, said “We have a lot of shared interests with refugees – we have been there ourselves. Recent events in Afghanistan directly affected us. Staff said they felt powerless and guilty – being able to do something helps drive us on.”

Both charities and The Basheri Project, established in response to the crisis, have been overwhelmed with donations, including from high street retailers, like Marks & Spencer.

“The support has been immense throughout this crisis. We really appreciate it as a community – people have acted very positively.” Said Karim Shirin, Director of the Afghan Association.

The Basheri Project, run by Zekria, the manager of Wealdstone’s Masa restaurant and his friend, Yama, is the newest local Afghan community organisation. “One of the reasons we started was the passing of Yama’s grandma. She gave to charity daily and we wanted to do something in her name.”

Their work has brought practical support to newly arrived Afghans across London and beyond. Central to their work has been food, using Masa as their base. They’ve provided meals and even trained chefs in hotels to cook food for Afghans temporarily placed there. “The reward is seeing people happy – that’s where our energy and determination comes from.”

Thank you to everyone who donated to the appeal, either direct to Harrow Giving or via Young Harrow Foundation / Harrow School. Funds raised are being overseen by our partner community organisations and have been spent on household items, school uniforms, toys, stationary, toiletries and childrens shoes. 

Families continue to arrive in Harrow and donations continue to be welcome: https://www.justgiving.com/harrowgiving

See how we’re all working together across the borough at harrow.gov.uk/afghans

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