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Afghan refugees start arriving in Lansing

Published: Oct. 4, 2021 at 3:43 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - At least 300 Afghan refugees will soon call Mid-Michigan home. Ten have already arrived.

St. Vincent Catholic Charities has agreed to resettle 300 refugees.

“We’re getting a lot of pressure from Washington to take even more, but we’re waiting to see how it goes and making sure that we have housing for everybody,” said Judi Harris, director of refugee services at St. Vincent. “We want to be responsible about this, and we want to make sure that we’re putting people in a good position here.”

A lot of refugees won’t know anyone in Michigan. That’s why St. Vincent is taking volunteers to help refugees get acclimated to their new home. Harris says the organization is a designated LGBTQ resettlement site, meaning there’s one less worry for Afghans who may be a part of that community.

“It’s been a rough road for them,” said Harris. “Just getting out of Afghanistan was really hard. Sitting in limbo in a military base for sometimes over a month has been really hard. So just being in a stable place is just really relieving for them.”

Yusuf Sultani was a refugee in 2016.

“The culture was totally different and I got the culture shock and I couldn’t connect with anybody,” he said.

Now he’s helping others coming here through the Afghan Association of Michigan.

“Some of those people might have lost their family members. Some of them lost their homes. Some of them lost their children, and it’s not easy for them to settle in that place in a new environment,” said Sultani.

According to St. Vincent, Lansing has already been eager to help its new neighbors.

“This is why we do this here. We love resettling refugees in this community because people are so supportive,” said Harris.

St. Vincent is still looking for donations of love seats, arm chairs, bath towels, drinking glasses, new toilet bowl cleaners, plungers, brooms and mops.

You can also here to apply to help families transition to life in Lansing.

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