Devotees from Minnesota's Afghan community gathered at an iftar on Saturday, April 30 at The Blake School in Hopkins, Minn. The humanitarian organization Alight hosted the event. Credit: Images courtesy of Alight and Marjan Samadi Photography

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On the 29th day of Ramadan, over 300 members of Minnesota’s Afghan community joined neighbors and supporters to break fast together at The Blake School in Hopkins.

The Minneapolis-based humanitarian organization Alight organized the April 30 community iftar to “build a community for [Afghan refugees], where they can feel more at home,” said Sam Munassar, Alight’s resettlement response volunteer manager. 

Since last fall, some 75,000 Afghans have resettled in the United States, after escaping danger at home. Minnesota has welcomed more than 1,200 Afghans, according to the state’s Department of Human Services. While many arrivals have moved into their own homes, others continue to wait for available housing. 

“We have some families who have been in a hotel for a few months: three months, four months, five months,” Munassar said. “And our main goal was to help them become engaged in the community, and have a small event for them to be able to get out of the hotel, and do something out of the norm.”

Attendees trickled into the school’s dining hall, where Afghan cuisine and delicacies were served: gyro doner, hummus and Afghan eggplant, pistachio baklava, and more. Ariana Kabob & Gyro Bistro, an Afghan and Mediterranean restaurant in St. Louis Park, catered the iftar. 

Every dining table had glasses of water, dates, and a card with welcoming messages scrawled on them, like “Welcome to Minnesota!” and “We’re glad you’re part of the community. Your adventure starts here.” 

Children played with Legos and enjoyed games with volunteers, as their parents dug into the feast.  Credit: Images courtesy of Alight and Marjan Samadi Photography

Khasif Karimi, a 26-year-old Afghan man who resettled in Minnesota only six months ago, said that it has been a great experience for him to see other Afghans and the Afghan community during Ramadan. “It makes me happy to spend time with them, especially this month,” Karimi said.

 Khasif Karimi, a 26-year-old man who resettled in Minnesota only six months ago, said he’s met other new arrivals at the hotel where he’s currently staying, and at local mosques during the holy month. “It’s a new beginning,” he said. “It’s tough and everybody’s trying to move forward, but it is a good thing that we have each other.”

He’s met other recently resettled Afghan community members at the hotel where he’s currently staying, and at local mosques during the holy month. 

“It’s a new beginning. It’s tough and everybody’s trying to move forward, but it is a good thing that we have each other, and that we can comfort each other.”

And his Eid plans? “I’m going to keep it pretty chill, since it’s a Monday and I’ll probably be working.” 

And with that, Eid Mubarak to those who celebrate!

Aala Abdullahi is the innovation and community engagement editor at Sahan Journal.