DES MOINES, Iowa — It has been nearly a year since American troops left Afghanistan, but the journey is just getting started for the Afghanistan refugees who fled to America.
“It is very difficult to leave away from your family,” said Ashabudden Mokhles, a refugee in Des Moines who worked with American troops in his home country.
“At first it was very hard because I missed my homeland, but now I am adjusting to the country,” said Abdul-Salam Ibrahimi, a high school student who fled to Iowa with his aunt.
The Diocese of Des Moines’ Catholic Charities estimates it has helped resettle about 300 refugees from Afghanistan into Iowa since the end of the war.
“We had about 120 people come in October alone, and that’s how much we would usually get in six months,” said Kelyn Anker of Catholic Charities Des Moines. “We did a great job and our staff worked really hard.”
That work mainly consists of arranging housing, healthcare, English lessons, and employment for new arrivals like Mokhles and Ibrahimi.
“One thing which is very new for us is a feeling of safety and security,” Mokhles said. “I heard a lot about America in Afghanstian. I had a wish to go over there, but I never thought that I would be here for years.”
Catholic Charities Des Moines and the Refugee Alliance of Central Iowa are still seeking donations for refugees, most notably kitchen equipment and bedding. You can find information on how to donate by visiting their website.