HOUSTON (September 26, 2023) On August 15, 2021, the world watched in shock as Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, fell into the hands of the Taliban, triggering a global refugee crisis of unparalleled magnitude. Today, we reflect on the remarkable efforts of organizations like Interfaith Ministries, whose unwavering commitment to humanitarian values shone brightly in the darkest of hours. 

While refugee resettlement typically follows a structured process, allowing ample time for preparation, the fall of Kabul forced resettlement agencies into immediate action with little preparation. Interfaith Ministries found itself at the forefront of this unprecedented challenge. 

Dario Lipovac, Refugee Services Director at Interfaith Ministries, shared his reflections on those tumultuous days, saying, “Overnight, the volume of people in need overwhelmed the system. We had no process to count on, and our only goal was to help as many people as quickly as possible.” 

Families were torn apart, individuals suffered injuries, and communication was minimal. In response, the Refugee Services team worked tirelessly around the clock to assist thousands of people. The focus was on meeting the most basic needs: providing food, water, and shelter. Dario describes the situation as akin to “flying the plane and building it at the same time.” Resources were scarce, housing was limited, and pandemic-related shortages compounded the challenges. 

In the midst of this chaos, Interfaith Ministries’ staff went above and beyond, even as they grappled with their own trauma and concern for their loved ones in Afghanistan. Twenty staff members had family ties to the region, further emphasizing the deep personal connection to the crisis. 

Despite the overwhelming adversity, what stands out in Dario’s memory is how the Houston community rallied together to extend a warm welcome to Afghan refugees. Local restaurant owners provided meals, property owners offered rental homes for temporary housing, volunteers ensured transportation, and generous donors stepped up to support the cause. As Dario emphasizes, “we are in the business of helping people,” a mission that transcends any crisis. 

Throughout this crisis, nearly 200,000 Afghan refugees found new homes across the globe. However, the repercussions of Kabul’s fall continue to reverberate. Many Afghans still grapple with family separation, legal hurdles, and the enduring scars of trauma. Dario notes, “We don’t know how we survived that moment in time, but we must now continue to serve.” 

Where they are now: Abdul Majeed Alizad was a successful Urologist in Afghanistan, thriving and looking forward to growing his new family and his practice. Unfortunately, Alizad has never known his country to be without war. Since his childhood, Afghanistan has been at the center of war, creating a dangerous environment for those willing to fight back. In 2021, Alizad made an impossible choice to flee in search of safety and risk it all for a better life. 

Upon arriving in the United States, Alizad was faced with the difficulty of finding a job without the luxury of transferring his medical degree. Alizad began working with Interfaith Ministries, helping refugees through the difficult experience he had just overcome, opting to apply to graduate school to focus on public health. Alizad earned his diploma in 2023 and he is utilizing his professional background and his personal experience to serve others. He is grateful for the opportunities he has found in Houston, and despite missing his country of origin, he calls Houston home. 

Interfaith Ministries, with its three decades of refugee resettlement experience, remains committed to providing support, hope, and a brighter future for those in need, regardless of the challenges that may arise. 

As we remember Kabul, we also salute the resilience and compassion of organizations like Interfaith Ministries, reminding us that even in the face of the darkest moments, the human spirit shines through. 

To learn more about the services provided by Interfaith Ministries’ Refugee Services, please visit https://www.imgh.org/refugees/ 


A United Way partner, Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston (Interfaith Ministries) brings people of diverse faith traditions together for dialogue, collaboration, and service, as a demonstration of our shared beliefs. Interfaith Ministries provides four main services: Meals on Wheels for Greater Houston and Galveston County which delivers more than 1.7 million meals each year to homebound seniors and people with disabilities across five counties; Refugee Services which, in conjunction with the U.S. State Department, resettles thousands of refugees in Houston; Interfaith Relations and Community Partnerships, which provides community services fostering understanding, respect and engagement among Houstonians of all faiths; the Vic Samuels Center for Volunteerism and Civic Service, which establishes a positive and lasting impact on the Greater Houston community through organized service and leadership through Volunteer Houston and SERVE HOUSTON. For more information, visit https://www.imgh.org/ 

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