Nonprofit welcomes the first Afghan refugee family to arrive in Westchester
A potluck picnic was held Sunday afternoon by the Hearts and Homes for Refugees organization to welcome the first Afghan refugee family arriving in Westchester after the Taliban takeover.
Native New Yorkers and Afghan refugees who fled the country a few years ago were there to help.
The Ahmadi family resides in White Plains. They say Hearts and Homes for Refugees helped to get them settled. Reshad Ahmadi says they received support from the community when they arrived, including learning English and finding a job.
“We wanted to pay back our share,” says Ahmadi.
Founder Kathie O’Callaghan says the nonprofit, which helped refugees in 2016 during the crisis in Syria, is ready to help with medical appointments, getting a hold of schools and more.
“We find housing, we clean the houses, we furnish the houses,” says O’Callaghan. “We help them with food.”
Zulfar Ahmadi says it was all stressful, “but with their help, with their support, we made it.”
O’Callaghan knows more Afghan refugees will arrive soon.
“These are the Afghans who fought alongside our troops, who were the interpreters, the drivers, the engineers,” says O'Callaghan. “Those we promised safe harbor because of their work with us, because they have targets on their back."
The nonprofit hopes to give the refugee families all the tools they need to contribute to American society.
“We want them to be self-sustaining, independent, and part of this country,” says O’Callaghan. “Not to lose who they are in the process, but to enrich who we are."