Patrick Raglow, executive director of Catholic Charities of Oklahoma City, learned that the youngest members of a family of Afghan refugees newly arrived to Oklahoma were trying to wash their feet, along with their face, hands and arms before prayer, as is custom in their Islamic faith. Many observant Muslims perform a purification ritual before prayer and many mosques are designed to make foot washing easier.
Raglow said Catholic Charities staff members quickly found an easier way for the Afghan family to practice their faith custom. It was one of the educational opportunities afforded the staff in the days immediately after the recent arrival of the first Afghan refugee family.
Many Oklahomans watched and read news reports of the Taliban extremist group taking over Afghanistan in the final days of the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the central Asian country. Almost immediately, Americans became aware that thousands of Afghans were trying to flee their native land. Many of them had worked with the United States government over the 20 years of the U.S. war in Afghanistan. Many were women and girls who had been afforded more educational and career opportunities under the U.S.-backed Afghan government, and experts predicted those opportunities would likely be quashed under the Taliban’s rule.