1st & 2nd Unitarian Churches of Omaha

Afghan family after arriving in Omaha

Project Update
October 2022

It has been almost a year since various members of the First and Second Unitarian Churches met to explore the possibility of co-sponsoring an Afghan family through Lutheran Family Services. At that meeting eight people — four from First and four from Second — volunteered to work with an adopted family. This group spearheaded the Afghan Refugee Project (ARP) and became its principal members. In January of this year the ARP was fortunate to be assigned to the family of Hamid Zaher, a family composed of a mom, dad, four children, a sister, and a grandmother. Later the group also took on a married cousin and her husband and son.

During the past year, the eight of us in the ARP along with various generous members of the Churches have helped the family settle and adapt to life in America. We have aided them in getting and furnishing apartments, enrolling in school, getting jobs, giving them driving lessons, getting driving licenses, and obtaining cars. We  have also driven them places and obtained necessary medical help. Throughout all this the eight of us have learned much about them and Afghan culture. We learned that you don’t always have to travel to learn about new cultures. We also learned that all people, no matter their religion or ethnic background, have very similar wants and needs — a need to feel safe, a need to have hope in the future, and a need to provide for themselves.

On Oct. 15, 2022, the members of ARP decided to end our relationship with Lutheran Family Services but not with Hamid’s family. The family is now fairly independent, which has been our goal all along. They have jobs, cars, decent apartments, and are enrolled in schools. All remaining monies that have been donated will be given to them to do with what they want — ESL tuition, a large van, etc. Knowing of this money, Hamid has sent the following:

“I am thankful for this and all other assistance and support we’ve received. I wish to help and support others in need, in return for these. My regards to you, the entire mentor group, and those who generously contributed.”
Hamid Zaher

We members of the ARP could not have said it better.

The ARP mentoring group would like to thank everyone from First and Second church along with old and new friends who have helped us along the way. Whether through volunteering time, household goods and money, your support made The Afghan Refugee Project a success. Well done. We will continue to update you as new information about the family arises.

Thank you again for your kind support of the Afghan Refugee Project,

John Mangini, Barb Herring, Donna Neff and Walt Jesteadt – First  Unitarian Church of Omaha

JoAnne Draper, Darrel Draper, Michaela Weiss and Pam Miller-Jenkins – Second Unitarian Church of Omaha

Blessings to everyone who donated money, time and items.


Important note: We are NO longer accepting donations for this project. 

United States and Afghanistan flags together