Families prepare to help Afghan refugees who could settle in the Piedmont Triad

North Carolina

HIGH POINT, N.C. (WGHP) — As the U.S. looks to relocate upwards of 70,000 refugees, the Piedmont Triad has begun to prepare for the possible arrival of a few dozen people.  

Refugees who have fled the violence in Afghanistan are in several stages of being processed to be resettled in America.  

This process includes heavy vetting of these families to confirm who they are if they have any family in the U.S. where they can be moved to, and what skills they possess to determine which state has the best job market for them to thrive with that trade.  

“The whole outcome of the refugee resettlement program is integration,” World Relief Officer Manager for the Triad Rob Cassell said. “Where they can draw on the strengths of their community, and the community gets to benefit for the strengths they bring to it.” 

Families have begun to arrive in North Carolina in cities with large Afghan communities such as Charlotte and Raleigh.  

The Piedmont Triad has significantly smaller Afghan communities, however, organizations such as World Relief and their host families have begun to prepare for the possible arrival of upwards of seven Afghan families. 

“When we see initial arrivals, I know there have already been some in Durham, so we are waiting. As we look to receive Afghans here, we’re really hoping to have enough to form a community,” Cassell said.

World Relief in the Triad has the capacity to relocate 30 to 40 refugee individuals in High Point and Winston-Salem. If it were to happen, it would be between September and March 2022.  

The organization has worked with volunteer host communities and families, such as five to 10 churches in the area, to greet these individuals once they have arrived.  

They will be notified between one to six weeks before the Afghan families arrive. During that time the host communities will shop for groceries, and set up the house that the families will move into once they arrive.  

This will be done in a way that highlights these families’ cultures and mimics what they might have been used to in Afghanistan.  

“So it’s not just a shock to their system,” Cassell said. “They help them get acclimated to American culture. They help show them where they can shop, get to know the bus system. They are that first little bit of community.”  

Volunteer families, such as Mark and Jennifer Gragg, have already begun to plan that process.  

Their family has worked with resettled refugees since 2009, an idea that came from their children.  

A more recent family they helped resettled arrived from Afghanistan two years ago.  

Jennifer Gragg detailed that a lot was learned from that experience. She explained that through conversations with that family, her family understood that a lot of the individuals who arrive from Afghanistan understand English, and can speak it to a degree, and already have some driving skills.  

“A lot of the families we’ve helped have gotten accustomed to the U.S. in a few weeks. One man got his driver’s license after a month.”  

For Mark, the images from the Middle East have reinforced the importance of host communities like his and his church, Calvary Baptist Church, and World Relief Triad.  

“The whole reason they’re refugees is because they’ve been displaced, they’ve been mistreated. We feel helpless. We’ve all been watching what’s been happening. This is a tangible way that we can help,” he said.

Cassell explained their organization needs more financial help for these families, and host communities that can help them resettle. 

There have been fewer volunteers due to fewer resettlement cases. In 2016, the Triad office had helped roughly 600 families that year. In 2020, that number was down to 37. In 2022, Cassell predicts to help roughly 400 families. 

To find out how you can help, visit World Relief.

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