Mother and son opened their Vancouver home to refugees; you can do the same

by | Aug 21, 2023 | Refugees & Immigrants

LCSNW is seeking temporary host homes for refugees. For more information about Vancouver placements, contact Khalid Barzgar, [email protected] or 360-787-4737. For the Portland area, contact Fiona Evans, [email protected] or 503-731-9590. For the Puget Sound area, go to our online Volunteer page, scroll down to the community where you live, and click “Become a host home.”

Jerin Boyer welcomed a family that fled Afghanistan in 2021. She and her son hosted the family in their Vancouver home until permanent housing became available.

In the summer of 2021, when the U.S. airlifted upwards of 100,000 Afghan people out of harm’s way, Vancouver residents Jerin Boyer and her high school age son, Porter, thought about how they could help. 

“When that started happening, we knew we wanted to do something,” Jerin said. The pair live in a three-bedroom house with a spacious basement and decided to offer to host newly arrived Afghans. Jerin posted her offer on AirBnB after the vacation rental platform invited listings from would-be host home volunteers. 

By mid November, a call came. It was Lutheran Community Services Northwest letting Jerin know to expect an arrival within several days. “Hearing that sent us into preparation mode,” she said. “We knew we needed to make things halal friendly, which meant clearing out the refrigerator and making space in a few cupboards.”

They scrambled a bit to empty rooms in their basement and bought baby gates to corral their two dogs. 

The following Monday, a family arrived. It was a husband and wife in their 20s with a newborn daughter fleeing their home country as the Afghan government collapsed due to a hostile takeover by the Taliban. 

Porter said life changed a lot with their new guests. “The kitchen became a hub of activity,” he said. “The wife cooked around the clock. Something that surprised me the most was how differently she used the kitchen than we had. She would spend hours in it. And the refrigerator was stocked with the most interesting items.”

Initially, the plan was for the Afghan family to stay about a week, at which point they would have their own apartment. But it took longer than anticipated to find permanent housing. After a six-week search, the family settled into their own place.

Jerin said she continues to be in close contact with the family. “I help them navigate systems and generally understand how life works here,” she said.

Both Jerin and Porter say they would consider hosting another family seeking safety.