BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — The City of Buffalo is expecting more than 300 refugees from Afghanistan and the Buffalo Public School District says it is preparing.
“Buffalo Public Schools is ready for our students from Afghanistan to heal, to progress and to excel,” stated Nadia Nashir.
When it comes to welcoming refugee students into the city schools, Nashir is an expert, serving as assistant superintendent for Multilingual Education.
Of the more than 300 new Afgahn refugees scheduled to arrive in the Queen City, no one is sure how many will be school age children.
But Nashir says they're prepared to help children attend school with cultural resource specialists standing-by, who speak ten languages.
“They understand our families culture. They understand our families plight. Many of them were immigrants or refugees,” explained Nashir.
Nashir says many of the district's international students attend International School 45.
“Historically, based on our data, our Dari speaking students and Pashto — elementary School 45, I-Prep — a majority of them go to those schools,” Nashir noted. “Whatever the families need — we will work with our partners."
The International Institute of Buffalo (IIB) is also preparing for the arrival of Afghans.
“We all saw the images of planes leaving the Kabul airport — these are folks for whom the experience of trauma around resettlement is top of mind and there hasn't been much separation from that trauma,” remarked Lauren McGuire, director of development & communications, IIB.
McGuire says it's an important and critical time for our Buffalo community
“I think it's a moment of crisis given the time line of these arrives — usually when we are working with refugees they’re folks that have been in process for a long time and you get them on kind of a case by case basis,” McGuire said.
The school district says it will be ready for any Afghan students who might be suffering from mental distress caused by the exodus from their country.
There are already more than 72-students in the city schools who speak languages from Afghanistan. Nashir says they will also help the new students settle into school.
“Putting students that speak the same language together, having a child be able to see someone that looks like themselves — it’s vital,” described Nashir.
The city school district says the students could arrive any day from now.
McGuire says they continue to call on the Buffalo community to help prepared for the refugees.
The IIB is working side-by-side with Jewish Family Services, Jericho Road, Journey’s End Refugee Services and Catholic Charities of Buffalo.
More than $60,000 has been raised in a collaborative fund raising effort, but McGuire says more funds are still needed to assist.
“It’s a remarkable accomplishment,” declared McGuire. “But because we don’t yet know who these folks are, financial contributes are the best way to help these five organizations who are working collaboratively to give them the services that they need."