Afghan refugees, still on a Taliban list, express gratitude for support in Northeast Wisconsin

Four Afghan refugees discuss how they survived the chaotic evacuations and their dreams of...
Four Afghan refugees discuss how they survived the chaotic evacuations and their dreams of starting a new life in the Green Bay area.(WBAY)
Published: Nov. 18, 2021 at 3:13 PM CST
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DE PERE, Wis. (WBAY) - For the first time, we are hearing from Afghan refugees looking to start a new life in Northeast Wisconsin.

Eight refugees are at St. Norbert Abbey in De Pere, while Catholic Charities works to find them more permanent housing options.

For these refugees, whose identity we are protecting due to the fact they are all on a Taliban list back in Afghanistan, the last four months are filled with emotions most of us will never experience.

When the Taliban took over Kabul this past summer and closed down the city’s airport, chaos ensued as people tried to evacuate.

These refugees say because they had worked with U.S. troops, it was evacuate or risk being killed.

“More than a 1,000 people, women, kids, everybody is outside the gate, all trying to get into the airport, there I saw a lot of people die there,” recalls one refugee.

“It was a really tough decision for me to make that night and it was like I have no time to think about this, I had to leave my family, friends or job because to survive,” explains another refugee.

Ranging in age from their early 20′s to their 40′s, these four refugees didn’t know each other until they met at a refugee camp of 6,000 in New Mexico.

Two weeks ago, they learned they were being relocated to Green Bay and would be assisted by Catholic Charities in establishing a new life.

“The main priority is finding them some more permanent housing solutions in the community, so really looking for landlords and other opportunities for them to be in locations, this is all new for them of course and it’s a difficult situation as they continue on the process of getting all the documents that they need to be able to live and work in the community, driving tests, other opportunities we all take for granted, but to them it’s all new and it’s a process in and of itself,” says Michael Poradek, Norbertine Center for Spirituality Director of Administration.

Despite the incredible pain of leaving behind their family and the only life they’ve ever known, the refugees are also deeply grateful.

“Thanks a lot for the U.S. Government, the Wisconsin people, they help us directly and indirectly so much, I so appreciate from them, thank you so much, they’re helping us to find homes, food, everything, clothes, warm shoes, everything,” says a refugee.

“Biggest hope or wish that I have right now is, not only me, all the refugees that came to the USA, they all have the hope that one day they can bring their families and we really seek help from the government or people of the USA, especially Green Bay to help us in this case so we can make our family live in a peaceful environment like us,” adds another refugee.

For information on how to help support the refugees,

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