BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — 65,000 Afghan refugees are being sent to several states across the country, one of the states being Louisiana.
Catholic Charities Diocese of Baton Rouge (CCDBR) will resettle 49 Afghan refugees, helping them with services like housing and employment.
“The American people have shown an overwhelming desire to help those from Afghanistan who risked
their lives and the lives of their family members to help our troops,” said CCDBR Executive Director David C. Aguillard in a statement.
He said helping those in need is what they do.
“It’s our job. It’s part of our Gospel mission to welcome people, especially folks who have risked their lives, their families’ lives, who have seen their brothers and sisters tortured to help welcome them to be our new neighbors,” said Aguillard.
“It’s quite a shock, I’ve seen a family walk into a Super Walmart and break into tears because of the abundance of material goods there and food. Some wonder on a day-to-day basis where their next meal will come from,” he added.
Volunteers are an important part of the process. Lisa Namikas said she’s been volunteering for about four to five years, working with families.
“We would volunteer with a family and we would help introduce the new immigrants to the city, either by helping them know the libraries, the stores, the park system,” she said.
They will also get to experience local festivities and celebrations.
“We would just help bring them into the community and feel at home once they’re here,” Namikas explained.
Her motivation is to pay it forward.
“You know, I guess I was an immigrant at some point. I feel that connection. I’m from Canada, it’s a little bit easier than coming around the work, but just seeing the challenges people face and knowing just a little goes a long way,” she said.
After evacuees are settled the next step is finding a job.
“I get to know a little background about the type of work they’ve done in the country. From there, we do orientation, welcome them into America, expose them to bus routes. Everything they need to know to get to work,” said CCDBR Employment Counsellor Constance Houston.
Aguillard also said the Afghans will have also received a full set of required vaccinations, including
“They’ve been vaccinated for COVID, they will be tested for COVID. Healthwise, they would probably be screened more than I have in the next year,” he explained.
CCDBR said they are expecting the refugees to arrive at the end of September.