INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The United States completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan late Monday, ending America’s longest war.
Indiana could be home to some of the thousands who’ll start their new lives in America. Several local organizations are preparing for if and when that happens.
Exodus Refugee Immigration said the evacuation of Afghans is a once-in-a-generation humanitarian effort. So far two families have come to Indianapolis. While it’s not clear how many Afghans could eventually come, Exodus Refugee representatives said September could see that number spike.
For many Afghans trying to escape the Taliban rule, a flight from the Kabul Airport means a flight to freedom. Thousands have secured a seat. But their future still isn’t quite clear.
“We are preparing and getting ready for anyone that comes our way. We can be responsive and help them start new lives here in freedom and safety,” said Cole Varga with Exodus Refugee Immigration.
Exodus Refugee Immigration is continuing 40 years of work, helping re-settle refugees. And they are getting ready for what could be a new wave of refugees. Collecting gently used items and created an online wish list to help collect items families may desperately need when they arrive.
“So that we’re ready when people come. We can give them the things they need to start a new life here,” he said. “So, that means having an apartment that’s set up and furnished with the couches and dinner tables and chairs and forks and spoons and plates and pots.”
The agency has already deployed members of its staff with immigrant and legal affairs backgrounds to military bases stateside that are helping vet refugees.
“Hoosiers to let their voices be known. To say that we want to practice Hoosier hospitality,” said founder Joel Vestal.
Since 2017, the organization has provided, language lessons, tutoring and relationship-building services to Indiana’s immigrant population and they are ready to extend that work.
“We have Afghan, he is coming to our weekly programs even in the last few weeks even some who’ve been here in Indianapolis just for a couple of weeks and I look in their eyes, the fear in their eyes the trauma that is evident as we’ve met them is overwhelming,” he said.
Refugee advocates said the families that do come will likely have an English translator in the family.