The Importance of Community, Here and There...
Sozo International seeks to be a catalyst of change, an organization of hope meeting practical and relational needs, all with the goal of empowering Afghans to transform their nation, their people and their future.
As with many societies around the world, Afghan culture is considered ‘collective’, meaning the needs of the group are valued over the needs of the individual. ‘Collective culture’ is typically contrasted with ‘individual culture’, which is the social approach more often seen in varying degrees in Western societies. A few markers of collective culture include: group decision making, labels identifying one’s role in society over their personal accomplishments (I am a good brother, or I am a good leader vs. I am accomplished, or I am intelligent) and high value is placed on interdependence, how cohesion in relationship is a necessary part of society.
Either cultural approach influences most major markers that define civilization: social roles and functions, concept of self, how relationships are built and maintained, how decisions are made, and much, much more.
Sozo’s work in cross-cultural settings provides both challenges and opportunities. How decisions and projects are approached, what is valued and what accomplishment looks like are all areas up for interpretation and perspective.
A great example of this is the Western value placed on planning and execution. When hosting short-term teams that visit Sozo in-country, we are often reminded that while plans are made, goals are set and schedules are created, teams may end up spending hours drinking tea and learning the stories of Afghan hosts—the plan/goal/schedule is never met – but the beauty of relationship that develops is seen is just as valuable.
Consider the communities and networks you’re a part of. Maybe a small group, a book club, a group focused on a particular activity or interest, the role you play on a board or committee—the options are endless! What common goal or shared experience brings you together? What makes relationship in these communities important?
Community in Sozo’s Work
At Sozo, we believe that were created to be in community, to do life with others, not separate from them. Community is a necessity for growth, change, sometimes even survival; we are dependent on one another and flourish when we approach a common interest together. Sozo International embraces the Afghan value of community—it’s seen in our close-knit staff, our holistic care for families and the importance we place on empowerment lessening dependency. We are Afghan led and directed and will never force our ‘Western ways’ into our work. This is sometimes a more challenging learning process from both ends, but one we believe has sustainability and relational value.
How can my community become involved with Sozo’s community?
Your heart for Afghans, for transformative hope to change a nation, is our common goal! Your advocacy, financial support and prayers are essential to Sozo’s work. So, how can you continue to use your community to be a voice of influence for Afghan communities?
Think about your ‘why’ – what sparked your interest in Afghans and Sozo International? Have you had an experience that impacted you? We believe that we’re all wired to connect with and be a voice for a person or group that might look or act a little different than us. So why has your interest been drawn to Afghans?
Through our common interests, your community has a role to play in Sozo’s community, both here at home and around the world.
Sozo has several educational resources available for individual and group use to learn more about Afghans and Sozo’s work, as well as ideas to connect with refugee and Muslim communities at home.
Consider a group book or video study (email us for a list of suggestions).
As a group, volunteer with a local refugee outreach organization, tutoring English lessons or acting as a liaison for new-to-the-US families.
Take a class together (Perspectives, Engaging Islam).
Pray: Your prayer support is integral
Prayers are appreciated for: Sozo’s ongoing programs to make a difference, the security environment in Kabul to stabilize, for expansion plans in NYC, for boldness in approach, for new partners and donors and for Sozo’s families and staff to have hope.
Join Sozo’s Prayer Team. Text ‘Sozo Prayer’ to 474747.
Engage: Connect with us – YOU are our best advocates!
Sign-up for Sozo’s newsletter at sozointernational.org.
Like ‘Sozo International’ on Facebook and invite your network to do the same. Tell your ‘why’ story!
Involve your kids – Help them organize a lemonade stand to support Sozo, check out books from the library on topics of new cultures and languages, cook an Afghan meal together (recipes available – email us).
Consider a short-term trip to Kabul or NYC or a long-term team (Kabul) or internship (NYC) opportunity. Contact us for more information.
Give: Monthly partnership ensures Sozo’s ongoing success
$25/month/food package for one family
$23/month medical supplies for one outpost
*Specific giving links and more information available at sozointernational.org.
Host a ‘fundraiser In a box’. We’ll send you supplies to host a small fundraiser in your neighborhood, workplace, etc., encouraging your community to support Afghans. This is another way for you to highlight your ‘why’. Email us to request materials.