Letter from the President – February 2022

Greetings from chilly Washington, DC!  

Since our founding in 1960, AAFSW has placed a strong emphasis on community. Our organization and membership has evolved through the years, but our focus on community remains the same. 

I know we have a great community – but in moments of stress and turmoil, I truly appreciate how we come together to provide support.  It’s very moving to witness this level of support during recent events which have led to authorized and/or ordered departures of posts around the world.  AAFSW’s Evacuee Support Network was founded in the 1980’s by a group of AAFSW members who were concerned about the rising number of family members who were being evacuated from posts around the world for a variety of reasons.  Since that time, the Network has met over 1500 evacuees to the Washington, DC area.  Over the years, Network volunteers have babysat, offered advice on housing, schools and hotels.  Volunteers have lent winter coats, strollers and toys.  They have shared Thanksgivings, Christmases and Passover Seders with evacuees.  Network volunteers have been friends to frazzled families.   

The Network works hand in hand with the State Department Global Community Liaison Office (GCLO), which includes our flyer in their information given to evacuees. The Network also sends out information through AAFSW Livelines and other social media sites such as Facebook and Trailing Houses. Once an evacuee with a need gets in touch volunteers are called on to help. 

Last week, AAFSW connected with Ladin Swarin, recently evacuated from Ukraine with her two young children to the DC area. Ladin sent a very nice note to Ann LaPorta which really captures how many feel during this time and why AAFSW’s Evacuee Support Network exists: “I’m trying to breathe as I sort yet another abrupt change in our life but having you all helps a lot. I can’t thank you enough” 


For more resources on evacuations, please check out the following:

AAFSW Evacuation Support: https://www.aafsw.org/activities/evacuee-support/

AAFSW’s FS Hub: https://fshub.org/life-at-post/

AAFSW’s Evacuee Support Private Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/aafswevacueesupport

FSI Go-Bags at the Ready webinar: https://youtu.be/-wq5gIhvWQA 

FSYF Youth & Family Evacuations: https://fsyf.org/YouthEvacuation/ 


DOS Resources

Go-bag, Stay-bag: Packing a Go Bag and a Stay Bag – United States Department of State

Important Documents to have:  List of Important Documents for Foreign Service Employees and Family Members – United States Department of State

Personal Preparedness:  Personal Preparedness Planning – United States Department of State

General overview information:  Post Evacuations – United States Department of State

If you are currently in the Washington, DC area, please consider volunteering with the Evacuee Support Network.  Please reach out to AAFSW at office@aafsw.org 

I hope everyone is staying safe, warm and healthy.

Lara Center, AAFSW President