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Afghan refugees are headed for the Quad Cities. Here's how World Relief is preparing

The refugees are coming from various U.S. military bases, where they have been since leaving Afghanistan.

MOLINE, Ill. — World Relief Quad Cities is preparing for Afghan refugees to arrive in the Quad Cities. The organization is planning to accommodate 175 refugees.

To prepare, the organization must find housing and set it up with everything the refugees could need.

Donation Coordinator Jerry Myers was tasked with picking up donations and helping to set them up in the new apartments and houses. He said it’s really a little bit of everything, from kitchen supplies to a couch and a bed, a tv and cleaning supplies.

“We get their home ready for a brand-new life,” Myers said. “I think of it as my own house. What would I like to walk into? So, when they walk in they feel safe, like this is your space, this is your home.”

World Relief not only helps refugees with housing, but it also helps the refugees through an intense program that evaluates what they did in their home countries, teaches them how to use public transportation, enrolls the kids in school, evaluates what languages they can speak and more.

“Afghans are refugees; they arrive with what’s on their back,” Director Laura Fontaine said. “So they don’t have family pictures, they don’t have their dishes, prayer rugs, anything.”

The refugees are currently being processed on military bases across the U.S. from as far away as Texas and Virginia, and as close as Wisconsin.

“They do background checks, biometrics, medical, everything,” Fontaine said. “Interviews happen usually in a home country or the refugee camp but are now happening in our country. So, it’s just taking a lot longer. Everybody’s being vetted.”

But once they are, it’s a very quick transition. The government set a goal of getting 43,000 Afghan refugees off of the U.S. military bases and into housing by Thanksgiving.

“We find out 48 hours before they get here. So right now, we’re just trying to secure all housing possible,” Fontaine said.

The last notice is the biggest obstacle, Fontaine said, with some refugees coming alone and others coming in families as big as 12 so far.

Everything the organization does is aimed at making refugees feel safe and at home.

“They feel safe again, they feel good. It’s turning a house into a home,” Myers said.

World Relief Quad Cities is always looking for donations. You can find more information about how to donate household goods here.