Afghan Refugees

A soldier sifts through donations at Fort Bliss' Doña Ana Village, in New Mexico, where Afghan refugees are being housed, Friday, Sept. 10, 2021. The Biden administration provided the first public look inside the U.S. military base where Afghans airlifted out of Afghanistan are screened, amid questions about how the government is caring for the refugees and vetting them. 

A number of people fleeing the unstable situation in Afghanistan will be arriving in Norfolk soon.

When that happens, they will need housing and household goods, clothing and everything else required for healthy living.

They are being sponsored by Orphan Grain Train, the Norfolk-based humanitarian organization that serves people around the world.

The Rev. Ray Wilke, Orphan Grain Train president, anticipates the arrival of 11 people — nine adults and two children — some of whom have already escaped from Afghanistan and are waiting for their papers to be processed so they can travel to the United States. At this time, four of them are in Turkey, six are in Qatar and one is still in Afghanistan. They are not all from one family.

Most of them are college educated, Christian, English-speaking, Wilke said.

“There is no question about their desire to live here peacefully,” he added.

The Orphan Grain Train was asked to become involved by an organization called the People of the Book Lutheran Outreach, a mission organization that serves immigrants and refugees, Wilke said.

The effort has the support of Norfolk Mayor Josh Moenning, state Sen. Mike Flood and Gov. Pete Ricketts, Wilke said. In fact, Ricketts has asked to be present when they arrive in Nebraska.

The challenge now lies in finding suitable housing, furniture, clothing and other items the refugees will need once they arrive in Norfolk.

We’ll need “what it takes to set up housekeeping,” Wilke said.

Once it is known when they will arrive, Kamryn Green, who is handling the logistics, will let the public know what is needed and where donations can be taken.

But that may not happen for some time.

“Getting a visa in this climate could take weeks,” he added.

While settling the refugees could be a challenge, Wilke sees it as an opportunity to “see some of God’s other creatures, whom He loves.”

“As we care for them, we make God smile,” he said.

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