Over the past ten days, at least 45 Afghan evacuees have arrived in Manchester to rebuild their lives with the help of the International Institute of New England. They come from US military bases after fleeing Afghanistan when the Taliban took over in August.
Many families arrive in New Hampshire with only one bag per person, often less because they had to leave their homes in Afghanistan so quickly. The International Institute’s Megan Clark says the organization receives donations of furniture, clothing and hygienic supplies for families.
“We want to collect goods to make sure we can meet their basic needs,” Clark said. Delivering these goods is especially important, Clark said, because some of these families will be in hotels while the International Institute of New England is looking for long-term housing.
Volunteers have also helped distribute winter clothes and prayer rugs, decorate apartments, deliver meals and transport the Institute’s customers from the airport.
Clark says the number of Afghans arriving in a few weeks exceeds the number of refugees the Institute resettled in recent years, due to ceilings from the former Trump administration and restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In the fiscal year 2020, we had 39 people for the entire year,” she says. “So we turn up the operation very quickly.”
Among other things, the department will help their customers secure apartments, find jobs, have children in school and learn English. The Ascentria Care Alliance is also in the process of resettling evacuees in the Concord area.
The evacuees are entitled to some financial assistance from the US government. Some are eligible for special immigrant visas because of their work on the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, but the path to long-term U.S. residency for many remains unclear.
This story is a production of the New England News Consortium. It was originally broadcast by New Hampshire Public Radio on November 22, 2021.