ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Before the U.S. military withdrew from Afghanistan, many flights filled with Afghan refugees headed for safe havens. Some refugees will end up in the Capital Region.
A number of local organizations—like the Islamic Center of the Capital District, Muslim Soup Kitchen Project, Al-Hidaya Center, Masjid As-Salaam, Masjid Nabawi, and Al-Arqam Center—have joined efforts to prepare for the welcoming and local resettlement of refugees.
“They are coming to a brand-new place where they don’t know the people, the language, or the weather. Everything is different,” said Azmat Ahmed. To help refugees navigate those differences, the groups are supporting them with a donation center at the former Salvation Army site in Latham, at 350 Troy Schenectady Road.
One family says they know the struggles of a refugee first hand. When Medina Faizy-Hashemi heard Afghan refugees were coming to live only a few miles from her, she loaded up her car with clothes, toiletries, and shoes to donate.
“Somebody did this for my mom 38 years ago, so this is my chance to give back,” said Faizy-Hashemi. She wanted to pay it forward.
She says that, as a mom, it was hard to watch what the families and children went through while escaping Afghanistan. “A lot of these refugees spent two days in Qatar. I was thinking to myself does that mean those babies were stuck in their diapers that whole time,” Faizy-Hashemi said. “The first thing that came to my mind was donating diaper rash cream.”
As hundreds of families make their way to the Capital Region, the Muslim Donation Center needs clean furniture in good shape, toiletries, kitchen supplies, lamps, toys, and clean/pressed clothing for both adults and kids. The donation center will be open on Tuesday evenings from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., as well as Tuesday to Saturday mornings from 10 a.m. to noon.
In addition, drivers with vans or trucks are needed to deliver items to the refugees. They also need drivers to give rides to refugees for things like physician appointments, grocery shopping, or other errands.
Volunteers want every refugee to feel at home in their new home. “We feel it’s very important those who are coming to Albany feel welcome and feel very much a part of this community,” said Ahmed.