Bikes for Refugees

Community Cycles recently had a request for kids bikes for families who have landed in Boulder County from Afghanistan, which we gladly fulfilled. Our bike mechanics made sure that the bikes chosen were colorful and were refurbished so that the kids ride them for a long time to come. We hope these bikes bring a little bit of joy to these families going through such a huge change in their futures.

Here’s their story:

In October of 2021, Major Chris Liggett, United States Army, met his friend and colleague at an airport in El Paso, Texas.  Matiullah is from Afghanistan, and had worked with Major Liggett as an interpreter when he served there in 2014.  They became close friends, like family.  So when American troops pulled out of Afghanistan, Major Liggett did everything he could to make sure that Matiullah and his family of 10 got out safely.  Once in America, he brought the entire family to Boulder County, where they have settled in to make a new life.  Matiullah’s family has been followed by other Afghans families with the help of Lutheran Family Services, an agency that assists new refugees coming to America.  From these beginnings, Task Force Boulder was born.

Task Force Boulder consists of more than 50 volunteers dedicated to the mission of easing the transition of Afghan refugees from immigrants to self-sufficient, productive, and proud members of their American communities, and, in the process, building long lasting, meaningful, committed relationships.  Volunteers range from social workers to faith communities to those with a connection to Afghanistan to ordinary citizens who believe in the mission and in the prospect of adding to the diversity of the Boulder community.  Volunteers take on a variety of responsibilities, the biggest of which is being part of a “wrap team,” providing wraparound services to families settling in a new country and a new community.  Wrap teams help with navigating legal issues, driving to immigration appointments, applying for benefits, and getting drivers licenses, along with the more immediate needs of finding culturally appropriate food and clothing, finding temporary and permanent housing, and finding jobs.  In the process, bonds of trust and friendship are developed that are fulfilling to both the immigrants and those providing assistance.

Other Task Force Boulder volunteers are managing both financial and physical donations, finding English classes, sourcing appropriate food, and looking for help with transportation needs.  Community Cycles is assisting families by providing bicycles to adults and children alike, allowing them to navigate the community for shopping, appointments, and pleasure.  One group of Task Force Boulder volunteers has procured sewing machines to allow the new arrivals to make their own culturally appropriate clothing.

To date, Task Force Boulder has assisted more than ten families representing more than fifty people, including many children.  The Boulder County community has embraced the effort, donating furniture, clothing, household goods, and more.  The City of Boulder and Commuting Solutions have provided bus passes.  Intercambio Uniting Communities is working on an Immigrant Guide in Dari and Pashto.  The Boulder Public Library has provided internet hotspots, a critical need for people trying to navigate the immigration system.  And the Boulder Valley School District has welcomed the new students into its system, helping them to work through the intricacies of school in a new place and a new language.

The road from Kabul to Boulder has been a long and arduous one, and settling into a new community with different customs and a different language can be difficult.  But the families that have settled in Boulder are glad to be here, and Boulder is glad to have them.

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