TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — More Afghans are coming to Tucson now because of the dangers they face after helping Americans there. Now Tucsonans are stepping up to help them.
Afghans who made it to transition centers in the U.S. are leaving those centers now to come to places like Tucson. Lutheran Social Services is one of several agencies preparing for them. Right now they’re expecting another ten families. They feel they have the capacity for about a 150 more refugees.
Heidi Urbina of Lutheran Social Services says, “So we try and find a housing for them before they come in we have donated furniture, we get culturally appropriate food to stock the pantry and provide food for those first two weeks of them being here at least, We have staff that are employment specialists, case managers, education staff that helped the students get enrolled in school help them parents find work and just get them settled into life here.”
Urbina says it helps that many of the Afghans served as English translators so there’s less of a language barrier.
Donations for the refugees are filling up Steve Kozachik’s City Council Office.
Looking at a room full of toys, clothes and furniture, Kozachik says, “This is this morning.”
KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked: “This room is this morning?
Kozachik: “We had a little pile in the corner this morning and this is what happened today.”
Kozachik sees the bounty of donations as an indication of Tucson’s generosity and the Federal Government’s inertia.
He says, “This community is way out ahead of the Federal government in terms of the way the Federal government is metering the Afghan refugees out. We've got 51,000 in round numbers in the United States right now kind of filtered out at eight different military bases. They call them safe havens. They're only letting out about 3500 a week, which means we're going to be looking at this going on for three, four months.”
To handle the donations Kozachik is working with organizations like Catholic Community Services and the Islamic Center. Because supplies are coming in faster than the refugees who will use them, Habitat for Humanity has agreed to sell donated goods at its’ Habistore and set aside half the proceeds for Afghan refugees to use for supplies once they do arrive.
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