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Afghan refugees settle in WNY, local organizations raise $950,000 to help families

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Posted at 6:14 PM, Feb 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-01 18:14:48-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — On August 15, Mohammad, who asks we only use his first name out of fear of retribution, fled his home country, Afghanistan. He said he was working for the U.S. Armed Forces at the time.

“We came outside and saw the Taliban was in the city,” Mohammad said. "When I got to the airport, the Taliban knows me, and they attack on us."

Mohammad tells me he still has family in Afghanistan and constantly worries about their safety.

"My family is there, but they are not safe,” Mohammad said. "We lost everything, and we don't have hope."

But he said Buffalo is making him feel at home, even thousands of miles away and without his family.

"I’m very happy to be here and I like the community of Buffalo," Mohammad said.

And members of Western New York Refugee and Asylee Consortium have raised $950,000 dollars to help these families $200,000 above their original goal.

"It has been a humbling and inspiring moment to witness and be a part of,” Jennifer Rizzo-Choi, executive director for the International Institute of Buffalo said. “Buffalo has done a tremendous job."

According to the International Institute of Buffalo, refugees are expected to continue arriving in Buffalo through the end of February. Right now, Buffalo is settling 500 refugees.

“Our agencies will be providing support services from housing to immigration services to housing for the next few years,” CEO of Jewish Family Services Molly Carr said.

But, Executive Director of Journey's End Refugee Service, Karen Andolina Scott, said there have been some bumps along the way.

"Finding affordable, safe housing for some of those families has been a challenge,” Andolina Scott said.

And Mohammad said once girls and boys in Afghanistan can be educated alike, the future will begin looking brighter.

“Because if our child becomes educated, we will directly get freedom from these people,” Mohammad said.

Even though Buffalo United for Afghan Refugees’ official fundraising is over they're still looking for help, whether that be donating or volunteering.