Northern Virginia community assisting Afghan refugees landing at Dulles
DULLES, Va. - Our area is helping take in refugees from Afghanistan as the situation there worsens.
Refugees got off a flight at Dulles on Saturday then taken to NOVA Community College before the State Department moved them to the Dulles Expo Center.
Some people in the local Afghan community say they are upset because they put time and money into helping the refugees, and those refugees are confused about why they had to be moved.
"We've had people putting their own money into buying medicine for these people all day long," said one volunteer organizer, Sahar Naimi. "And to see these refugees so traumatized, we didn’t realize how much it meant to them to come in and to have somebody who looked like them talk to them, just to say ‘Hey how are you doing, do you need a towel, do you need some snacks?’ Lets play together.'"
Classes start Monday at NOVA, and the college shut down its Annandale campus to be able to take in 200 refugees. They're prepared for hundreds more.
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The college used their Ernst Center as a temporary shelter. The school says it was overwhelmed by support from Fairfax County residents providing food and water for the refugee.
The school says it set up 500 cots for arriving refugees.
The State Dept. at around 4 p.m. Saturday moved the refugees to new locations, including Dulles aiprort.
"It's an immeasurable amount of heartfelt work that went into this," Hoang Nguyen, a spokesperson for NOVA Community College, said. "The sentiment was that everyone wanted to be there for them. And it was just a great experience to assist those through this process."
FOX 5 also spoke with a separate group of volunteers who had truckloads full of donations for Afghan refugees at NOVA.
Those supplies included toilet paper, toothbrushes, food and clothes.
These volunteers spent their own time and money to help, and some eve wanted to be there just to translate for the Afghans who arrived.
One volunteer said the Afghan refugees are glad to be safe, but they're worried about their future.
"They are very sad because they left the life they were used to back home, they were so comfortable and coming to another country … there are things you have to start all over from, start from zero and those are the challenges they have told me, but we are here to help them in any way we can," Sear Baluch, one volunteer, said.
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Other volunteers who spoke with Afghan refugees today shared the same sentiment: That the refugees are terrified and stressed, and hope the support and supplies they've received from the local Afghan community made their journey a little better.