Faith & Service

Students assist Afghan refugees living on Army base

November 15, 2021

Every Saturday since late September, student volunteers have started their days early by filing onto buses and heading about 1 1/2 hours southeast to Fort Pickett Army Base in Blackstone, Va., where thousands of refugees from Afghanistan are being processed. The refugees arrived there in August following the fall of their country to the Taliban’s control.

The trips were coordinated by LU Serve Now, through Liberty’s Office of Spiritual Development as part of the Department of Defense’s Operation Allies Welcome and Operation Allies Refuge facilitated by the U.S. Army National Guard and Marine Corps.

The volunteers have unloaded, sorted, and distributed donated items. 

When the first Liberty groups came, there were about 6,000 Afghans living at the base; a few thousand more were expected in the following weeks.

Liberty also sent a semi-trailer full of supplies to the base; students and members of Thomas Road Baptist Church donated baby and personal hygiene items as well as toys and clothing. Students helped to sort and pack the donations into the trailer as part of a service project for Global Focus Week. 

Reese Braband, assistant athletic director for spiritual development for Club Sports, accompanied 24 members of the men’s volleyball team to Fort Pickett on Sept. 23. 

“It was incredible,” he said. “The purpose was to have fun and give them something to do as they have come out of a traumatic experience and don’t know how long they’re going to be there. They were all asking when we would be coming back.”

The team set up courts on two different compounds with close to 1,500 people gathered at both locations.

“We were able to go and be a light to these people, to love on them,” Braband said. “There was definitely a language barrier, though enough of them had learned some English. But the universal language of sport is one that everybody can understand.”

Liberty’s women’s and men’s soccer coaches have also put on clinics at the base.  

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