WORCESTER, Mass. - Governor Charlie Baker says about 900 Afghan evacuees are coming to Massachusetts. Worcester is getting ready to take in about 200 of them.
“We have a lot of experience with this," Worcester's mayor, Joe Petty, said. "We are replicating what we did for Hurricane Maria when we took 1,200 people in off the island of Puerto Rico."
About a dozen Worcester leaders are working together to figure out housing, jobs, and health care along with other resources for around 200 Afghan evacuees. It’s help Samira Darwishi, who left Afghanistan years ago, says is needed.
“They will need a lot help to adjust in this community," Darwishi said. "They'll need help especially with those basic skills of living in a new country and a new community."
So far more than $500,000 dollars has been raised for the efforts help those fleeing from Taliban rule. The fundraising goal is $750,000.
Many of the Afghan citizens coming to the country are on “humanitarian parole” which, according to the National Immigration Forum, means they aren’t able to receive some federal benefits.
“We are ready to go and the community is stepping up," Petty said. "People are begging to help."
Tim Garvin, president and CEO of United Way of Central Massachusetts, says money is being given to Ascentria and RIAC to help find apartments for evacuees. About 50 job openings are already available for Afghans once they fill out the right paperwork.
“We are excited about that because as soon as they have those jobs then in fact they are part of the community," Garvin said. "They are part of our society."
Darwishi says Afghans coming to Worcester in groups will help make the transition easier. She came to American alone.
“I feel very happy that the Afghans that need help they are coming to our community and that they will be part of this community," Darwishi said.
But she says she’s worried about her family still in Afghanistan, who haven't been able to evacuate. She visited the country recently to help her husband get to the U.S. and describes the difficult conditions many are facing.
“It’s stressful for them they feel like in danger all the time and there is no help for them," Darwishi said.
Worcester leaders say they expect to know more soon about when the evacuees will be coming, but they anticipate by they’ll be here by the end of the month.