NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — Tens of thousands of Afghan refugees have arrived in the US with little more than the clothes on their backs.
Many have come through Virginia military bases Fort Lee and Fort Pickett as they chart a course for the future.
Commonwealth Catholic Charities is lending support to families through their offices in Richmond, Roanoke and Newport News.
As of this week, the Newport News office has resettled 69 Afghan refugees. Officials anticipate this office alone will resettle hundreds more in the coming months.
“Showing up in Newport News Virginia from Kabul, Afghanistan is certainly a pretty big shift,” said Commonwealth Catholic Charities CEO Jay Brown. “We’re just making sure we’re there to provide the orientation, making sure people understand how to navigate the systems, navigate the education system and we really are there to provide support in every step along the way.”
CCC helps refugees with everything from employment to healthcare.
One of the biggest challenges, according to Brown, is finding adequate, affordable housing. Afghan families often come to America with 10 or more people.
Commonwealth Catholic Charities works to make sure families have some familiar comforts, like recognizable food items, specifically certain brands of brown rice and halal meats.
Brown says many of these refugees have at least some experience with American culture due to the extended American military presence in the country. Many of them worked hand in hand with Americans.
Most of the refugees choosing to stay in Newport News already have some family, friends or ties to the area.
Brown says the community has been extremely welcoming overall, donating countless items to help the Afghans adjust.
If you would like to help refugees make a new life in Newport News, you can donate here.