WASHINGTON (TND) — One year since the American withdrawal from Afghanistan and the fall of Kabul to the Taliban, Afghan refugees face a number of challenges resettling in the U.S.
"In the last year, we have undertaken a Herculean effort of resettling tens of thousands of Afghans into communities all across the country. It's really been an all-hands-on-deck mission. And it's really been inspiring to see how everyone from veterans to civic groups to faith communities, have pitched in," said Krish Vignarajah, CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services. "Our new Afghan neighbors are slowly but surely settling in. We see how relieved they are to be safe, to see them finding a sense of community and to see how hopeful they are for the future."
But Vignarajah says adopting a new country, along with its culture and language, can "feel more like a marathon than a sprint."
One of the major hurdles for Afghan refugees is one many Americans also deal with — finding affordable housing.
"We've been able to place virtually all of our clients at LRS into stable, long-term housing, but we know that there is a shortage of affordable options. And that's why one of our key focuses has been to make sure that our Afghan neighbors can find jobs, they can reach self-sufficiency," said Vignarajah. "Fortunately, they're driven, they're enthusiastic, they want to work and we also find employers who were eager who are looking for reliable, skilled and ambitious employees."
But on top of that, Vignarajah says many Afghan refugees are struggling with mental health concerns.
"They're dealing with the trauma of losing their homeland, having to navigate a new life," said Vignarajah.