'I really like it here': Afghan refugees head out for a day on Buzzards Bay

·3 min read

NEW BEDFORD — It was true freedom.

A dozen Afghan refugees got a chance to forget all their troubles and enjoy the open Buzzards Bay waters on a recent Saturday morning.

Many of them even got to steer Captain Kathy Frey’s boat — teenagers and women included. This inclusive scene and feelings of freedom are a far cry from the lives they once lived in Afghanistan.

Since last summer, after the United States ended its 20-year war in Afghanistan, many American sympathizers in Afghanistan sought refuge in the United States.

Thanks to volunteers at Dartmouth’s St. Peter’s Episcopal Church and other groups, there are more than 40 Afghan refugees living in Dartmouth and New Bedford.

Martin Costa, of Westport, is one of the many St. Peter’s volunteers to step up and help.

“I had written Whaling City Expeditions asking for information on the harbor cruise as many refugees need more social outlets. Many have no vehicles and are stranded at their apartments not able to explore and enjoy many activities that Greater New Bedford has to offer. That's when I received an email from Mr. (Steve) Silverstein making his wonderful offer.”

Silverstein is a New Bedford businessman who owns the Black Whale, Cisco and Whaling City Expeditions.

Kathy Frey and Mowladad Safeway on a boat ride on Buzzards Bay.
Kathy Frey and Mowladad Safeway on a boat ride on Buzzards Bay.

Silverstein arranged for a free boat trip for the Sedaqat family and others living in the area.

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“Getting them out of the apartment and onto a boat is a fantastic way to

help their mental health,” Costa said.

Frey stepped in and took it a step further by giving lessons on how to steer the boat.

“There were surprised faces, huge smiles and a lot of laughter, especially when the teenage boys wanted to go as fast as possible,” Frey said.

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Still, Frey didn’t think twice about offering them this opportunity.

Kathy Frey and Massi Sedaqat during the boat ride.
Kathy Frey and Massi Sedaqat during the boat ride.

“It all comes down to kindness. It’s a tough world out there,” Frey said. “Sometimes a small act of kindness will be just the thing that keeps a person from sinking so low that they can’t see the way out. Kindness restores hope.”

Costa is one of the volunteers looking to give them more hope. Costa said many Afghans in this area have no car and are living with host families. Volunteers at St. Peter’s are looking for permanent homes and more transportation for these refugees.

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The Sedaqats, who live with Ann Sheehan in Dartmouth, are a six-member family with a baby on the way.

Sheehan’s required six-month host agreement is about to expire.

Mowladad Sedaqat, the father, works the night shift for a technology company, logging in at 3 p.m. and working past midnight.

Costa and other volunteers hope a local tenant can step up and offer them rent at a discount.

“As is known throughout the country, finding an affordable apartment with 2 to 3 bedrooms is difficult,” Costa said.

Despite the family’s struggles, Sedaqat’s spirits were high.

During a recent interview, he couldn’t stop expressing his gratitude toward the locals in the area.

“I really like it here,” he said.

This article originally appeared on Standard-Times: Afghan refugees take a boat trip on Buzzards Bay