Multicultural News

Resettlement efforts surge on as Afghans move into Indiana communities

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Afghan refugee resettlement efforts for have surged in the last few months. Typically, agencies like Exodus Refugee could help a few families a month.

That number jumped to more than 50 during the week of Thanksgiving.

It’s a massive undertaking to get the job done, especially considering the hundreds of Afghan refugees who’ll make Indiana their home. Four resettlement agencies in Indiana are working with hundreds of volunteers to sort donated items to help refugees start their new lives.

It’s the reality for thousand of Afghans forced to leave their country with literally just themselves.

“Some of them were lucky to take a bag or two,” Cole Varga with Exodus Refugee said. “Some of them were unlucky enough to have those bags lost in transit and they are stuck in DC somewhere.”

The organization is one of the lead resettlement agencies unpacking and sorting through the donations to help create a home for families as small as two or as large at 11. It’s a lot of work, but Hoosiers have shown they are up for the job.

“I think part of that may be because we all watched it unfold on TV all summer,” Varga said. “The images of Afghanistan falling and just the craziness of people trying to reach Kabul airport on live TV I think resonated with us a little bit more.”

America’s military ties to Afghanistan for the past 20 years created a unique investment for many helping now. Indiana Burmese community has its own unique tie.

“You fled your home,” Burmese American Community Institute President Elaisa Vahnie said. “You are not necessarily [fleeing] because you want too, but you are forced.”

Many Burmese are refugees themselves, fleeing from generations of military rule. They know the trauma military rule can cause.

The BACI is also helping with resettlement, leaning on the local Syrian community to provide cultural competence support.

“It’s important to come together and do some thing [when] we face [a] crisis like in Afghanistan and Burma,” Vahnie said.