Caring for Afghan Evacuees in Transition

September 20, 2021 • Europe
In addition to providing other critical, life-saving relief, Samaritan’s Purse is also giving haircuts to Afghan evacuees in Eastern Europe.

Samaritan’s Purse is providing a variety of unexpected relief services at a transit center in Eastern Europe.

The invigorating feel of a fresh haircut or a new dress. The fun of kicking around a soccer ball or flying a kite. The confidence of being seen by a medical professional.

A Samaritan’s Purse Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) is providing all of these experiences and more to Afghanistan evacuees at a transit center in Eastern Europe. Of the tens of thousands of Afghan citizens who fled their country at the end of August, 800 men, women, and children made it safely to this camp. Here the Afghans eagerly await word of which country will become their future home. In part due to their warm and dignified welcome by Samaritan’s Purse, the atmosphere at the center remains upbeat and hopeful.

“Many of the people that we are helping had decent paying jobs,” said David Ang, a DART member. “They had careers up until three weeks ago. They had decent standing in their communities, they had the opportunity to provide for their families and all of the sudden that is wiped out.”

More Than a Barbershop

One of the center’s leaders asked Samaritan’s Purse to provide free haircuts. We hired a local barber who performed about 60 cuts a day, all tailored to the requests of the evacuees. A total of 310 men’s cuts have been completed to date.

“Dads are bringing their little boys,” said Hobie Smith, the DART leader. “They’re saying ‘I want my young sons to look sharp as well.’”

“We’re making sure evacuees are cared for as individuals and treating people to simple things they might be longing for, especially after having undergone a traumatic situation.”

The men’s haircuts were so well received that we hired a women’s hairdresser as well. Word is getting around the camp that this stylist—a refugee herself—does great work. Women are bringing pictures on their cell phones to show her how they want their hair cut. So far, more than 80 women have received this service.

To go with these new looks and to encourage other women in the camp, Samaritan’s Purse provided 250 new dresses and scarves to those who fled Afghanistan with little more than the clothes on their backs. This second set of clothing is a welcome relief.

“What I love about the barber, hairdresser, dresses, and scarves is that the team is going beyond life-saving needs,” said Deb Go, Samaritan’s Purse Afghan response manager. “We’re making sure evacuees are cared for as individuals and treating people to simple things they might be longing for, especially after having undergone a traumatic situation.”

Offering Medical Care and Recreation

In addition to the haircuts, Samaritan’s Purse has provided evacuees in this transit camp with more than 50 soccer balls, over 30 volleyballs, and roughly 50 kites.

“Afghan kids love kites! That was a real hit,” Hobie said.

In recent days, we’ve begun supplementing the medical services in the camp by providing two doctors and a nurse. This team has been seeing an average of 20 patients per day.

In the weeks prior, Samaritan’s Purse worked with partners in Afghanistan to sponsor flights out for desperate men, women, and children. We also sent our own DC-8 cargo jet carrying medical personnel as well as 19 tons of medical kits, hygiene kits, blankets and other critical items to aid those who had fled their homeland.

Through all these services, Samaritan’s Purse is working to bless and encourage the evacuees.

“We’re all made in the image of God and dignity is important,” Hobie said. Helping evacuees maintain their dignity is a concrete step toward loving our neighbor as Jesus calls us to do in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10).

“We’re all made in the image of God and dignity is important.”

From the chaos at the Kabul airport to temporary housing in the foreign culture of Eastern Europe, these families already have been through a traumatic journey in search of refuge. As our DART continues working, we hope that each haircut, medical exam, or kite given by Samaritan’s Purse in Jesus’ Name will point to the true refuge of our souls (Hebrews 6:18-19).

“I’m just hopeful that God will reveal Himself here in the camp,” Hobie said, “and as He does that, it’ll be reinforced when they get to their final destination.”

Please continue to pray that Afghanistan evacuees will be comforted and encouraged. Pray for the Samaritan’s Purse DART to serve them well.