CLEVELAND — As an immigrant from India, Gauri Wagle said she understands the difficulty of relocating to a new country. She’s been donating boxes full of essential items to help Afghan refugees start their lives here in Ohio.
“In the boxes, we have clothes, some bed sheets, some comforters, pillows, basic needs that refugees need for their day to day life,” Wagle said, packing up her car.
Wagle volunteers with Project Seva, which is a part of the Federation of India Community Associations. She said they want to extend a warm welcome to the refugees, from one immigrant community to another.
“Most of the Indians get really good education. They are well-respected with good jobs, and in some way, knowing their roots of being an immigrant, they can pay it forward where they want the refugees that are coming in [to] feel welcomed,” Wagle said. “They want them to be into the community in a productive way, getting good jobs, getting settled and in [the] future, hopefully they can pay it forward.”
Wagle said her group is rallying community members from the association to serve the next set of newcomers in collaboration with the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants in Cleveland.
“We coordinate with USRI for arriving families for hot meals, for the required groceries, for whatever requirements they have. Whether it’s winter jackets, if it’s comforters, bedding, we are in constant touch with them,” Wagle said.
She said their partnership with the committee has been valuable so far. They have provided nearly 200 meals, hosted donation drives, and also offer development courses through their Shiksha Daan program.
“So, ‘shiksha’ means education and then ‘daan’ means donation. So, it’s a donation of education. So, we have people who volunteer or get in touch with USRI [sic] to provide English or mentorship to this refugees,” Wagle said.
Wagle added that members from her organization are also interested in helping the refugees gain employment at one of the many Indian-owned businesses in the area.
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