By David Schuman
Dozens of Afghan families are on their way to their new homes and new lives in Minnesota.
Last fall, thousands of refugees escaped Kabul with the U.S. military withdrawal. More than 700 have come to Minnesota, and now, about 250 more are expected to arrive by the end of February.
Sonia Anunciacion, the Afghan response project lead for Alight, a Minneapolis-based humanitarian organization, is helping furnish apartments in the Twin Cities for the refugees.
“So many of them have seen really awful things in Afghanistan,” Anunciacion said. “We just want them to be able to open that door and feel a sense of relief.”
Minnesota’s Department of Human Services secures the apartments, then groups like Alight furnish them. Refugees move in after stays on military bases.
“A lot of Afghans that choose Minnesota, either it’s because they have family here or because there’s a lot of assistance,” Anunciacion said. “My parents were born in Afghanistan and so yes, this is very personal for me.”
Alight’s volunteers do what they can to make the spaces feel like home. For example, the kitchen in one South Minneapolis apartment is stocked with lentils, rice, nuts, tea, spices because those are staples of an Afghan diet.
“I thought of ‘What do I need in my house? What do my parents like to have at home?’” she said.
Refugees will also find welcome cards, a Quran and a Muslim prayer rug.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar spoke Sunday in support of the re-settlement efforts.
“It is our privilege and honor to assist them,” Klobuchar said. “Minnesota has always had a very strong and rich history of welcoming refugees.”
Klobuchar said they will be able to help Minnesota’s workforce shortage in industries like healthcare, tourism and agriculture.
Alight is looking for volunteers to help furnish apartments and collect donations