MINNEAPOLIS — The Afghan Cultural Society held a grand opening to celebrate its very first office space in Minneapolis on Thursday.
"I am just full of love right now. We are very fortunate to be here in Minnesota," said co-founder and advocacy director Nasreen Sajady.
The society first began as a cultural organization in 2018 by Amina Baha, who wanted her children to keep in touch with their Afghan culture.
"She was afraid they may lose their Afghan identity growing up in the West," said Sajady.
According to Sajady, the organization became a nonprofit soon after Afghanistan fell to the Taliban in 2021 and worked closely with the state of Minnesota to support resettled refugees.
"We wanted to make sure our community here was able to be stable financially and also mentally and physically healthy. And so, this space is hopefully where our community heal," said Sajady.
Sajady, who is the daughter of Afghan parents who fled the country in the 1970s, recalled some of the many challenges newly-resettled refugees face.
"For a lot of them, it's the language barrier," said Sajady. "Many of them don't speak the language. A lot never learned how to read or write in their own native tongue. They are learning so much and they are expected to learn it so quickly."
She also mentioned the trouble the organization is having in locating all recently settled Afghans in the Twin Cities.
"Even getting resources to them is difficult," said Sajady. "It's hard to communicate with people when they are sprawled everywhere."
However, Sajady says she is very thankful for the support the organization has been given from the state on all levels.
"We are very fortunate here in Minnesota that we have so many people from the counties, from the cities, from the nonprofit organizations and from the state that are showing up because folks in other states are having a harder time," said Sajady.
The Afghan Cultural Society's mission is "to advocate for and empower [Afghan] communities through a range of services, including assisting them in improving their mental and social health, promoting economic self-sufficiency, and creating a space for cultural well-being," according to its website.
The nonprofit is currently working to address men's and women's mental health services and senior and youth programming.
The space will be open Monday to Thursday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Fridays from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. or by appointment and closed on Saturdays and Sundays.
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