CLEVELAND — Over the past week, Cleveland has become home to many Afghan refugees. One local organization is working non-stop to welcome more groups.
Off Clark Avenue is the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants. If you walked in, on the inside you’d find Ahmad Farid packing up food for an incoming family.
“Oct. 10 is going to be my second anniversary here,” said Farid.
Farid has been working for as a case manager since February, but two years ago he was on the receiving end of that box.
“Yeah. I came in, it was late at night, my friends came to the airport along with my case manager Rachel. Thanks to her for everything she did,” said Farid.
He and his family are from Afghanistan where Farid worked to rebuild his country until things became tense.
“We were teaching, we were teachers there, but still, our lives were in danger because of the Taliban, because of the militant forces there,” he said.
So Farid, his wife and two kids packed up and came to the U.S. leaving the rest of his family behind.
“It’s difficult, it’s very difficult to explain, but it’s good I’m here and if something happens there, I can support them from here,” said Farid.
Not only supporting his family but every refugee that comes in. The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants has been the stepping stone to acclimate refugees like Farid to normal life with schools, a job and health insurance for more than 100 years.
“We’re responsible for the core services upon arrival. So really getting things like housing and other preparations ready for when a family arrives,” said Darren T. Hamm, the director of the U.S. Committee of Refugees and Immigrants.
For the committee, they usually get one to two families per week, but this week they are looking at eight—which totals 31 people.
“About a month in, maybe six weeks ago, with the fall of Kabul we saw a wave of people fleeing from Afghanistan and arriving at U.S. military bases as well as other bases around the world,” said Hamm.
They’re expecting 380 more arrivals over the next year, so it’s all hands on deck. They have been stacking up supplies and planning for those families for months.
“We have another warehouse down the street that’s filled in with a team of five people right now preparing goods,” said Hamm.
One of those families arrives tonight and the one to welcome them is Farid.
“I’ll be accompanying them and stay with them. I’ll let them feel comfortable, tell them like everything will be okay, all the stuff that I told you I was told when I came,” said Farid.
Though Farid wishes he was in Afghanistan, he’s happy to play a role that helps refugees feel at home.
The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants can use your help. They tell news 5 they are always in need of supplies and translators. For more information click here.
Download the News 5 Cleveland app now for more stories from us, plus alerts on major news, the latest weather forecast, traffic information and much more. Download now on your Apple device here, and your Android device here.