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Providing Support to Arriving Afghans

February 11, 2022

When the historic evacuation of Afghans began last August, Gabby Chamberland stepped up to help. A dual degree candidate in Applied International Studies and Social Work, she has experience working in direct services with families facing homelessness and refugees being resettled in the United States. Within weeks of applying, she found herself in Indiana at a U.S. government site designed as a Safe Haven, working with the International Rescue Committee to help process several thousand Afghans.

As part of Operation Allies Welcome, more than 74,000 Afghans arrived in the United States by the end of December. Those Afghans coming to the country under humanitarian parole were sent to eight Safe Havens for processing. Once there, a number of governmental and non-governmental agencies, like the IRC, provided a range of support to ensure the new arrivals would be able to access Gabby standing in doorway on the jobresources and services at their final destinations.

When she first arrived, Gabby was employed as a generalist, helping with logistical support and providing consultations to Afghan guests. She later transitioned to a role offering trainings on trauma-informed care, including self-care for staff. She ended up being a Trauma-Informed Care Specialist, working with both Afghans and staff.

“Having the opportunity to help support this historic resettlement effort has been a tremendous learning experience,” said Gabby. “It’s my first time working in an emergency response situation—which was much less structured than normal resettlement. And as someone who is interested in resettlement and migration policy, it was really valuable to see what works and what doesn’t on the ground.”

Gabby hopes to work in international development and migration after graduation, perhaps with USAID, before applying to PhD programs. Ultimately, she sees herself transitioning to a role in the UN system or with an international NGO supporting the economic security and well-being of refugees and migrants.