Hiba Muhyi was preparing to begin her senior year at New Mexico State University when horrific images from across the world started to appear on the news.
Just before the fall semester at NMSU, the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan in an uprising that plunged the country into chaos and sent thousands of Afghans fleeing for their lives.
Watching the situation unfold from afar, Hiba and her mother, Rajaa Shindi, sprang into action.
Hiba, an English major, and Rajaa, an assistant professor of accounting and information systems in the College of Business, started mobilizing students and organizations across NMSU to assist Afghan refugees resettling in Southern New Mexico. Together, the mother-daughter duo launched the NMSU Afghan Refugee Response project.
“As a child of immigrant parents, I’m naturally passionate about these sorts of topics and helping communities that are very similar to my own,” Hiba said.
The project initially began as a call for volunteer translators, Hiba said, but has since morphed into a more ambitious effort to assist long-term refugees in collaboration with the Las Cruces Muslim community, Afghan Refugee Crisis Committee, Diocesan Migrant and Refugee Services, and Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains.
Since late August, Hiba said, more than 80 volunteers have come together to support the refugee project in various ways, from donating goods to serving as cultural mentors and translators. The group has collected more than 100 household items to furnish several temporary apartments for displaced Afghan families, Hiba added, and the donations keep coming in.
“It’s been much more than just furniture donations,” Rajaa said. “Our volunteers are helping these families learn English, apply for jobs, enroll their kids in school and adapt to a new society. There are so many things that they need right now, and our volunteers are making a meaningful difference in supporting Afghan refugees at a time when they need help.”
Hiba said the outpouring of support from the NMSU community has surpassed her expectations.
“We’ve had such a great response from department heads, professors, presidents of student organizations, and others asking what can they do either as an individual or a group to assist with the refugees,” she said. “We’ve had a variety of people who are willing to do whatever they can to help and assist.”
Hiba praised several campus groups for contributing to the project, including the NMSU chapter of the Association of Information Technology Professionals, Pre-Pharmacy Society, Pre-Dental Society, Black Student Organization, Student Social Work Association, and the English Graduate Student Organization.
Hiba also hosted a winter coat and blanket drive-in in collaboration with the Pre-Pharmacy Society and Pre-Dental Society.
In November, Hiba and Rajaa toured an Afghan refugee camp at Fort Bliss and met other volunteers helping to resettle families.
“We got to meet some of the countless volunteers helping with donation sorting and assisting at the multiple store sites, where free clothes, shoes, infant food, and other items are provided and distributed to the refugees,” Hiba said. “But there is still a great need for dedicated volunteers and donations.”
For Hiba, overseeing the project has been a time-consuming but rewarding experience.
“It’s been challenging but worth all the efforts and long hours,” she said. “It’s very much a team effort, however. I want to thank Dr. Shindi, the NMSU community, and all our volunteers for their support and assistance in helping these families.”
Want to help?
Hiba said the most-needed items include school supplies, closed-toe shoes, children and infant winter clothes, men’s and women’s winter clothes, and hygiene items. To donate through the NMSU Afghan Refugee Response project, contact Hiba at [email protected].
Top image: Rajaa Shindi, left, and her daughter, Hiba Muhyi, launched the Afghan Refugee Response project this semester at New Mexico State University to help Afghan refugees resettling in southern New Mexico. Shindi is an assistant professor of accounting and information systems in the College of Business, and Muhyi is a senior majoring in English. (NMSU photo by Josh Bachman)
Written by Carlos Andres López for NMSU.
Posted by LasCruces.com