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Local organization ramping up efforts to welcome up to 200 Afghan refugees to Colorado Springs

Local organization ramping up efforts to welcome up to 200 Afghan refugees to Colorado Springs
Posted at 6:06 PM, Nov 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-17 07:47:45-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — For Afghan refugees, moving to a different country has its challenges, but a local organization is helping make that transition a little easier.

Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountain is located in Colorado Springs, and they have been helping Afghan refugees integrate into the Colorado Springs community since 2012.

Soon, the organization will be serving up to 200 Afghan refugees who will be moving to Southern Colorado.

Floyd Preston has been the organization's program director for 15 years, and he says staff has been ramping up efforts to deal with the large numbers of refugees who are moving to the area.

He also mentioned staff has to be ready at a moment's notice to help refugees. Sometimes, they only get a two-day notice that a family is coming. Other times, it's a week.

"Our job then is to spring into action and find housing. We have to find an apartment, we have to put furniture in the apartment, we have to make sure that the fridge is stocked with food," said Preston. "We help them with food stamps, Medicaid, English-second-language courses, we enroll kids in school, we also help them in employment and ensure they have resumes so they can get interviews."

The organization has been helping refugees for 45 years and welcoming them into the community. Preston says they're currently providing services to more than 30 Afghan refugees.

"They've been very grateful. Some of them have seen a lot of things, many of the things you've seen on the news with them traveling and getting here and running from the Taliban," said Preston. "Many of them coming with the bare things they have on their back, so any time we're able to provide clothing or any assistance, they're extremely grateful."

News5 also spoke to Sohailia Fariyar, who came to the United States as an Afghan refugee in 2015. Now, she is a case coach for Lutheran Family Services and helps others who are in similar positions. She knows firsthand what some of the challenges were when moving to America.

"When you move to a different country, it's very hard because you don't speak the language and you don't know the culture, you want somebody to help," said Fariyar. "But it was a good feeling when I met someone at the airport who was waiting for me and my family. They drove us to the apartment that was already finished, there was food and groceries ready, and a bed to sleep in. There are people that do care and that's a good feeling."

Fariyar and her family got help from the organization, and they were also able to find safety. Now she has the opportunity to help others.

"I was happy because my family was safe due to war in my country," said Fariyar. "That gives me a good feeling when I'm helping refugees who are coming. I'm so happy that they are safe," said Fariyar.

The organization also mentioned they're hiring more employees to help get ready for the influx of refugees that they'll be seeing in the upcoming months.

Refugees can receive services from the organization for up to five years. Sometimes they also need assistance if they lost their job or if they want to go back to school.