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Colorado organizations ready to help refugee families from Afghanistan

The African Community Center, Lutheran Family Services and International Rescue Committee held a press conference Wednseday to discuss their plan to help.

DENVER — When Baryalai Rahimi and his family arrived in Colorado in 2018 from Afghanistan, he almost immediately received help from one of Denver's resettlement agencies. 

The organization he worked with was the African Community Center in Denver, which he says was able to get him permanent housing within days of arriving. 

"Everything is good. I don’t have any complaints," Rahimi said. “They help me to bring all the stuff to my house."

Now, he lives in an apartment complex which he says has a good community of other families from Afghanistan. But he also understands that it's not as easy for families right now to do what he did. 

“Right now the process is very hard for a lot of people," he said. 

As more families try to escape Afghanistan in the wake of the the Taliban taking over, resettlement agencies in Colorado say they're ready to take help an influx of refugees coming to the state. 

Credit: Foster Gaines
Baryalai Rahimi sits in his living room at his apartment in Aurora.

At a join press conference Wednesday, representatives with the ECDC African Community Center, Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains and International Rescue Committee explained that they are not sure how many more families they'll be helping in the near future from Afghanistan. 

But overall, the help for those families is ramping up. 

"We have been ramping up volunteers," said Jaime Koehler Blanchard with Lutheran Family Services for the Rocky Mountains. "It'll be a challenge, but we're up to it, and I think we are prepared."

"We are increasing capacity, whether that be working with community partners and volunteers, as Jamie had stated, but really ensuring our staff has the support they need to continue to welcome arrivals wherever they are coming from," said Victoria Francis with the International Rescue Committee. 

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Ron Buzard with the African Community Center explained that they've been helping those from Afghanistan for years. In the last two months alone, they've helped up to 40 people and expect to help at least 40 more. 

"A lot of our capacity comes from when community members step up and help out," Buzard said. 

He adds that they expect a vast majority of arrivals to Colorado to be holders of the Special Immigrant Visa or in that process. 

While the organizations have a goal for among other things, helping provide permanent housing for arriving families, Buzard explained that understandably, the new hurdle is the amount of notice these organizations have that a family is arriving, which is somewhere between 24 hours and a few days. 

The International Rescue Committee said Wednesday that they will partner with Airbnb to provide short term, temporary housing through their Open Homes program. 

>To learn more about volunteering with Lutheran Family Services, click here. 

>To learn more about volunteering with the African Community Center, click here. 

>To learn more about volunteering with the International Rescue Committee, click here.

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