Lansing woman helping Afghan refugees

Published: Aug. 20, 2021 at 9:18 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 20, 2021 at 10:58 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - A Lansing woman returned Friday from helping Afghan immigrants who fled their country. Some of those immigrants are coming to the Lansing area soon. When News 10 spoke with her Friday, she explained that she’s optimistic about welcoming these refugees to the area.

Thousands are fleeing Afghanistan as a result of the United States pulling their troops. The U.S. has dedicated themselves to evacuating more than 2,000 people per day. Some of those will soon find refuge in Lansing.

Judi Harris is director of refugee services for St. Vincent Catholic Charities.

“I was in charge of a cohort of 25 people,” Harris said. “About six families.”

Harris was deployed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to help process special Afghan immigrants in Fort Lee, Virgina. Her job was to escort the families around the military base and show them where to get food, find entertainment and help with any paperwork they required.

She says, while they were all grateful to have made it to America, some were also burdened with guilt.

“The special immigrants were allowed to bring their spouses and their children, but they weren’t allowed to bring their parents and their brothers and their sisters,” Harris said. “As much as they were extremely grateful to be there, and knowing how important it was that they got on the flight when they did … I did have some people break down and feeling guilty that they had to walk away from other people they loved who weren’t going to make it.”

Harris says she isn’t sure how many will make their way to Lansing, but she says she feels confident people will show them the kindness they need.

“I think just really, what average people can do is just be sympathetic and friendly and welcoming. They appreciate that so much,” Harris said.

According to Harris, it’s uncertain when Lansing will be receiving the families. However, they’re asking for the public’s help in finding housing, furniture and home goods.

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