Pro-Bono Services For St. Louis’ Afghan Resettlement Initiative

by | Jun 15, 2022

Montieth & Company (“M&Co” or the “company”), a global communications consultancy, is providing pro-bono public relations and strategic advisory services to support St. Louis’ Afghan Resettlement Initiative, a community-wide program to assist with the resettlement of Afghan refugees.

The initiative is led by Jerry Schlichter, a prominent local attorney, community leader and founder of the local non-profit global startup competition Arch Grants. Schlichter has also provided significant funding to this cause. He is working closely with the International Institute of St. Louis (IISL), the region’s leading resettlement organization, which provides an array of resources and support including job opportunities, interpretation, housing, and training in their mission to build a more inclusive community and support those in need. The initiative has received over $1 million in donations and has over 800 volunteers.

“Our work to raise awareness about helping the resettlement of Afghan refugees in St. Louis is closely aligned with our values and reflects who we are as a company,” said Montieth Illingworth, CEO and Global Managing Partner. “This is an important call to action and we are honored to contribute to a cause that has a tangible impact on people’s lives.”

M&Co worked with the media to help tell the story of people like Shazia Jamili who shared with BBC Radio how she barely made it out of Afghanistan, and Inamullah Niazai who spoke with the Associated Press earlier this month.

“Anything is possible here,” Niazai, 23, said. “We are so lucky that my family can be here, together.” Civic leaders are hopeful that over the next few years, thousands more will decide to relocate to the Midwestern city, helping to offset seven decades of population loss and rejuvenate urban neighborhoods — just as the arrival of Bosnian refugees did three decades ago. – Associated Press

The company also made a donation which was used to provide handmade traditional costumes for the community’s first Attan dance team at this year’s inaugural festival.

The region has already settled over 600 refugees since January 2021 and is expecting 750 new arrivals before the end of September, according to Arrey Obenson, President and CEO of IISL.

St. Louis Public Radio reported on how Jerry Schlichter and IISL are working on developing a soccer league for Afghan kids, providing a housing fund and launching an Afghan chamber of commerce.

Moji Sidiqi, who manages the Afghan Support Program launched by Schlichter, told St. Louis on the Air host Sarah Fenske that the groups’ combined efforts aim to give refugees both a sense of safety and community with other people connected to their culture. –St. Louis on the Air

Jerry Schlichter added: “We are grateful to Montieth & Company for helping us raise awareness about the work we are doing and will continue to do to help Afghan refugees feel at home in St. Louis. Our community has not only welcomed the newcomers but embraced them. Numerous national organizations have said there is no city in America that has a program like this. I look forward to seeing St. Louis being the place where Afghans can thrive and rebuild their lives.”

The initiative helped find them a place to rent — a brick home on a quiet street a few miles south of the Gateway Arch that now is home to 11 family members. Volunteers provided furniture, food and what Niazai called “welcome money.” Someone even gave him a car.

Niazai said he feels at home in St. Louis. “We will stay,” he said. “My future is good here.” –Associated Press

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