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MOVING FORWARD: Afghan refugees welcomed to Omaha

Housing is needed for more than 200 refugees coming to the area
Posted at 7:57 PM, Oct 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-12 20:57:24-04

OMAHA, Neb. — It was a late-night arrival, but one of relief for a family of six from Kabul. Also, it was an arrival that workers from the Refugee Empowerment Center say they welcome, regardless of the time.

"We are helping people, people who have come here through no fault of their own. I am so happy to be a part of the process and to be helping them," said Mitch Strong, Housing Specialist with the Refugee Empowerment Center.

Another worker at the center is feeling a personal connection to the struggles of this newly arrived family.

"They have been living for almost two months in a camp. I have been in a camp and I know how camp life is. When they come here, I feel so connected with them and it encourages me to work harder and do my best," said Refugee Empowerment Center Caseworker Abdullah Lami.

There was a lot of work to be done in preparation for Afghan's arrival and there was some surprising help from a few of the bigger companies in the Omaha metro area.

"Finding a home in Omaha is hard, not just hard for Afghan arrivals but refugees in general. Omaha is a welcoming city and the nice thing has been working with property management companies like NP Dodge. Those companies have been the best and the most responsive in helping out the Afghan refugees coming here," continued Strong.

Omaha has a relatively large Afghan community. Staffers at the center are hoping this will make it easier for the family to get acclimated to their new lifestyles and help them maneuver difficulties in their new city.

Strong added, "The people coming here want to work. They get off of the plane and say 'Where can I get a job?'"

To assist with cultural orientation caseworkers make sure that refugees not only have food upon their arrival, but the food they know and love.

Omaha will be welcoming about 250 refugees in total. They stay in temporary housing such as Air BnBs until a permanent home can be found.

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