AURORA, Colo. — Refugees from Afghanistan are starting to find their new homes in the United States. It's a big change that comes with many adjustments and some Coloradans are hoping to ease that transition.
“The community is coming together," said Aurora Police Officer Abdul Syidi. "It is a multi-faith effort trying to help out refugees that came from Afghanistan recently in the last few weeks.”
Syidi, along with State Representative of the 41st House District, Iman Jodeh (D), organized a clothing drive at Mountain View United Church in Aurora in an effort to get necessary items to people who may not have anything to keep them warm as the temperatures start to drop.
“When they left and we all saw it on the TV," he said. "They were leaving with the clothes on their back and that’s it. There’s was no time to pack up and take your family memorabilia or photos or any of those things that are important to all of us right. And they left that stuff behind just to come with a t-shirt on their back that’s hard.”
It's something Syidi said he can relate to after leaving the same country in the ‘80s.
“The only thing that separates myself from this generation of refugees is 40 years," he said. "Forty years ago, we immigrated to the United States as refugees in 1981. Here in 2021, there’s refugees still coming to this country for the same reason we came. For an opportunity."
“My brother, he’s an interpreter/translator," Syidi said. "He speaks Farsi and Pashto, the languages spoken in Afghanistan. So, he’s currently in Tomah, Wisconsin at Fort McCoy. So, he reached out to me a couple of weeks ago asking for help for some of the people he’s working with and the needs that they are having. The military just isn’t getting enough stuff to accommodate the number of refugees they have.”
He made to call and the community started to show up.
“Kids clothing, to coats, to jackets to head scarfs you name it," he said. "Everything that we’ve been asking for they’ve been generous enough to bring for us. Packing it, folding it up, putting it in a box, and getting it ready to ship out.”
Seeing Coloradans be generous and welcoming is nothing new, according to Jodeh.
“Colorado has a long history of welcoming immigrants and refugees,” he said.
Jodeh said he is overwhelmed by not only the partnership but the opportunities provided to those who now call America home.
“I’m the first Muslim and Arab representative in Colorado," he said. "And so, you know, the majority if not all of these Afghan immigrants are Muslim. I feel like our community - not just as a representative of our Colorado community - needs to come together to honor these folks.”
Syidi plans to make the trek to Wisconsin early next week to hand-deliver the truckload to his brother and the 13,000 refugees in need.
“The goal is to fill that 20-foot truck," Jodeh said. "The goal is to make sure folks who are finding their new home in America feel welcomed. And that we show our gratitude for being allies during times of war.”
Those who have gently used or new winter clothing to donate can drop it off at the Mountain View United Church located at 10700 E Evans Avenue in Aurora. That is near Parker and Havana.
The drive will held the following days and times:
- Saturday, Oct. 16; 9 a.m. - 7 p.m.
- Sunday, Oct. 17; 9 a.m. - 7 p.m.
- Monday, Oct. 18; 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.
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