Feb 9, 2023 - News

Afghan community wants to plant flag in Clark-Fulton

An abandoned red brick church next to an empty lot.

The former Emanuel Apostolic Church on Daisy Avenue. Photo: Sam Allard/Axios

Cleveland's Afghan Community Association is on a Herculean fundraising mission to purchase a community center in the Clark-Fulton neighborhood.

Driving the news: The association is trying to raise more than $250,000 through a GoFundMe page to acquire and renovate a former church at 2806 Daisy Ave.

The big picture: The Cleveland Afghan population has surged from about 30 families to more than 300 in the past two years.

  • Refugees arrived in Northeast Ohio in an unprecedented wave after the Taliban assumed control of Afghanistan in 2021.

Why it matters: With limited resources and often little or no English-language proficiency, refugees require intensive social and cultural services.

  • The association has been providing ad hoc services every other Saturday at a Cleveland mosque — matching families who have specific challenges with a roster of community volunteers — but a physical community center would provide those services on a regular schedule.
  • Plus: They could offer English classes and Afghan cultural education and appreciation.

What they're saying: "We do anything a social worker would do," Ahmad Farid Aria, the leader of the Afghan Community Association, tells Axios. "We have people who have never waited for a bus, never requested an Uber, don't know how to schedule a doctor's appointment, and who don't speak English.

"The latest: Aria says they have raised roughly $20,000 so far, but are short of expectations due to the inability of the Afghan community to contribute much on its own.

  • "Most of these families live paycheck to paycheck and can barely save a few dollars for themselves," he says.

Flashback: The Afghan Community Association officially formed in March last year, shortly after the publication of a story I wrote in Scene examining Cleveland's Afghan immigration boom.

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