CLEVELAND — Afghan refugees are coming into Cleveland by the dozen every week, and the U.S. Committee of Refugees and Immigrants say they need more sponsors to help those families acclimate to life in America.
Asadullah Safi, his wife and five daughters live in a home in Cleveland, but just a few months ago they feared for their safety in Afghanistan.
“I could not stay there anymore because the recent government there could create any kind of problem for us,” said Safi.
So they immigrated to the U.S. They first landed in New Jersey and stayed there on an immigrant base for a few months. Then headed to Cleveland just 12 days ago, where they met Amanda Mayan and Heather Torok.
“They came here and they helped me and they enabled me to go to the market. They provided me with information about the school and how my kids will go to school,” said Safi.
Amanda and Heather are neighbors that are a part of the U.S. Committee of Refugees and Immigrants sponsorship program. They visit the Safis about three times a week, helping with everything they can, including providing donated supplies and buying new things.
“We are drawing on a community of really generous and willing people to donate household items, clothing and other items,” said Heather.
They also help in getting the kids connected in school and simple day-to-day tasks.
“The other day we walked to the bank and set up a bank account. We also went to the grocery store and started figuring out the difference between salted and unsalted cashews,” said Amanda.
The family does all this while overcoming language barriers.
“There's a lot of universal symbols and smiles and nodding,” said Heather.
But sponsorship doesn't look the same for everyone.
“Sponsorship can also be a one-hour-a-week commitment for a family to just take them to the grocery store,” said Amanda and Heather.
It all depends on what the family needs and how much the sponsor can provide. Whether it’s three times a week or just an hour, it makes a huge difference for families like Safi's.
“These sponsors and the people of the community came here and they loved us so much. Now we don't believe that we have moved out of Afghanistan. Now, we feel we are living in our own community,” said Safi.
With a little help and a lot of love, the Safis are settling into their new home with a new life.
Right now, 90% of refugee families in Cleveland don't have a sponsor. If you are interested in sponsoring click here. USCRI says if sponsoring isn’t for you, they also always need donations, volunteers and translators.
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