MICHIGAN — Samaritas says it expects to welcome hundreds of Afghan refugees to Michigan as early as next week.
“It’s an intense process,” said Kelli Dobner, chief advancement officer at Samaritas.
Dobner also co-chairs Samaritas’s Afghan Refugee Network. It’s a coalition of statewide partners, like churches and corporations, that was formed in response to the U.S. military’s withdrawal from Afghanistan to provide displaced persons with resources. Dobner says in recent days they learned 350 Afghans will be coming into their care. Where is still being sorted out, but she believes it will likely be in areas where the organization is already well established.
“We know that we are focusing on the Grand Rapids area specifically and in southeast Michigan just because that is where staff and resources and other refugee communities currently exist,” said Dobner.
Samaritas estimates $430,000 is needed to help refugees establish themselves over the next six months. The nonprofit will help first with basic necessities like housing and closing then other needs.
“We welcome them; we find them housing,” said Dobner. “Then we’re looking at education; we’re looking at employment, transportation, getting a driver’s licenses. All of those different aspects.”
Dobner says 75 percent of Samaritas’s families become self-sufficient within 180 days. She hopes Michiganders can be a part of that statistic during this crisis.
“For the last 20 years, while we were heavily involved and present in Afghanistan, many, many of these people were our allies,” said Dobner. “They were helping us along the way. I think a lot of people are coming forward, wanting to give back, show that appreciation. We’re here to help you when you need it most as well.”
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