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Immigrant Welcome Center $75k grant helps aid growing Afghan community

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A new $75,000 grant will help extend new Afghan immigrant wrap around services. The Immigrant Welcome Center says it’s an important step forward as community members try to integrate themselves into American society.

One of the key focus areas the grant will support is hiring a program coordinator who speaks the languages. Another element will focus on helping improve low English literacy rates. Advocates say, if communities are hoping to thrive, this is an important step.

Self sufficiency is an important goal for many Afghan families living in central Indiana. It’s a major feat, as many left their homeland with little less than a backpack.

“This is very true for our Afghan neighbors. The way they had to flea Afghanistan. And the trauma that they have suffered in leaving their home land,” said Gurinder Kaur of the Immigrant Welcome Center.

The Immigrant Welcome Center applied for a grant with to address the challenges. Awarded $75,000, they’ll use some to hire a program coordinator to help families navigate life in America, and also access to higher paying jobs.

“Research consistently shows that individuals who speak a different language at home, if they don’t have English competency — ability to speak English comfortably, conversationally, etc.– then they tend to stay in those lower paying jobs,” said Kaur.

While many have some grasp of the English language, a large portion of the migrant population don’t have enough proficiency to maneuver American society. With major change, difficulty arrives when grocery shopping, accessing transportation, and navigating school for their children.

“We are finding that they really need low literacy English language classes. Which means that their education levels — quite a few of them — have education levels below sixth grade.”

The funding will support virtual and in-person English literacy classes for the working members of the family, but also for the home-makers.

“The sooner they get integrated with the communities, the better their outcomes will be,” said Kaur.