Catholic Charities signaling first Afghan arrival in central Missouri

If you have a “mother-in-law’s room,” a bed and breakfast, or even a room above a garage, the staff who are settling the Afghan refugees in the area may want to talk to you.

Catholic charities in central and northern Missouri helped settle an Afghan refugee in Colombia on Sunday evening.

There are many more to come, and the challenges remain the same for everyone across the United States, whether in Los Angeles, New York or anywhere in between – housing is. the big question, said local Catholic Charities director Dan Lester.

“Once people come out of the (US military) bases, and they’ve had all of their shots, and they’ve had all of their background checks, and they come into the local communities, where are they going- will they be accommodated? ” Lester said. “Where are they going to go, given the general housing shortage? “

Agencies are reaching out to owners, owners, people who operate Airbnbs and anyone else with available space, he said.

“We’re just trying to figure out what the long-term plan will look like to make sure they will be housed when they first enter our communities,” Lester said. “We’ve been lucky so far. We’ve got a number of different places – be it apartments or mother-in-law units, farms – all kinds of different places that have lined up for some. of our arrivals. “

The nonprofit makes sure it looks at all the different possibilities. There will be a large influx of people over a short period of time, Lester said.

The first to arrive was a young, unmarried man.

“He’s here. And he’s safe. And he’s getting all of his initial services,” Lester said. “Get in touch with doctors and employers and whatever else you need to do to help someone acclimatize to the new community. “

A number of additional arrivals were verified. Some of their treatments have slowed down. Some of the new arrivals needed to be vaccinated.

It built in another three week window, Lester continued.

To learn more about welcoming all refugees to central Missouri, visit the Catholic Charities website at

“People started to spread to different communities across the United States,” he said. “The message is, ‘Expect, because they will start to arrive faster in greater numbers. “”

The speed at which the authorities hoped to process the refugees has not reached what was initially thought.

Many will not be resolved until the end of the year, but they will be.

A number of nonprofits and faith communities have partnered with Catholic charities because they want to help resettle some of the newcomers, Lester said. They are really interested in “community sponsorship” of refugees.

Community sponsorship is basically a religious group or other group taking an individual or a family and “adopting” them.

“With guidance from Catholic Charities, they’re taking over some of these case management services – helping these people get to their first doctor’s appointment, helping them navigate a store for the first time. “said Lester. “Help them ask, ‘How do you cook all these foods that I don’t know? “It really is an opportunity for the community to really get involved in welcoming these people to their new home.”

It’s not just Afghan refugees. We will see more refugees, in general, over the next few years, he said.

Catholic Charities had sponsorship programs in the past, but they were really small. He is now holding meetings with community leaders in the region and hopes to get them excited about it.

“It’s a tremendous chance,” said Lester, “for the community to be involved in this work. Agencies like ours can do a lot, but at the end of the day you need more hands. people need more hands.

“If we can help them make this transition into the community as quickly as possible, the more successful they will be in adapting to their new life. “

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