Lancaster community prepares for Afghan refugees


LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) — As the chaos in Afghanistan continues to unfold, thousands of Afghan refugees are expected to make their way to America. Some will likely end up here in the Midstate and many will be creating a new home in an unfamiliar place.   

“People really recognize the sort of opportunity that exists here while at the same time we all love our homes no matter what so recognizing leaving home even if home is the place that’s been challenging still has emotions,” Rachel Helwig, Development and Communications Coordinator at the Church World Service Lancaster said.

 The Church World Service in Lancaster is one of many preparing to receive these Afghan refugees with the expectation that some may be coming at a moment’s notice.  For now, it’s a case of wait and see.

“We are ready. We are willing. We have the capacity to serve our Afghan neighbors here in Lancaster so we’re really hopeful that we’ll start to see those folks in the next few weeks to a month,” Rachel Helwig said.

Rachel Helwig understands well what families will be experiencing those first few weeks. The key challenge, she says, is finding them safe and consistent housing.

“Some of our new neighbors have English proficiency, others may be learning English for the first time. They’re thinking about registering their kids in school. These are things that are individual volunteers and welcome teams do in partnership with the family and staff to really help people get used to life in Lancaster,” Helwig added.

This team of volunteers continues to work around the clock to organize donations,

From toiletries to furniture and everything in between–all of which will go to these families.

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