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NWA group creates welcome kits for Afghan refugees

Afghani refugees are making their arrival to the Natural State soon. Locals are stepping up to help with their transition from Afghanistan to Arkansas.

ARKANSAS, USA — On Thursday (Sept. 16) Governor Asa Hutchinson announced 98 Afghan people would resettle and make their new home the Natural State. However, that may not be that easy.

“When you’re displaced, like most of our refugees are. I think there’s a lot of loss there’s a lot of sadness in leaving their home and seeing that atrocities are happening where you live,” said U.S. Congressional Candidate and social worker Daisy Bonilla.

Bonilla has worked closely with many refugee families and she sees the struggle many go through when resettling. 

“You are arriving to a new environment, your country you’re not bringing anything with you,” said Bonilla describing part of the resettlement most refugees go through.

For that reason, Bonilla teamed up with the nonprofit Canopy NWA and other congressional candidates to offer their help, as 49 Afghan people prepare to call Northwest Arkansas home. The refugees will be settling across Northwest Arkansas cities like Bentonville, Fayetteville, Springdale and possibly the River Valley in Fort Smith

“We have been hosting a supply drive to assist Canopy Northwest Arkansas,” Lauren Mallet-Hays said. 

She was a part of a group that held the supply drive on Sept. 17, taking donated items to build refugees' welcome kits. 

“Welcome kit consists of anything," Mallet-Hays said. “Anything that they’re going to need to resettle their new home. These refugees are coming with nothing and they’re starting from scratch."

Starting from scratch means they don’t have homes. Canopy NWA is asking the community for affordable housing options for the refugees to stay, such as apartments, houses and Airbnb’s.

“It would beautiful for us as neighbors to just extend our hand,” Bonilla said. “It’s the right thing to do. To be able to offer people who are suffering and who are in need. To be able to offer them a welcoming hand."

Canopy NWA is still looking for help in asking for donations saying it costs around $8,000 to resettle each family. If you are looking to donate or help clink on this link: http://www.canopynwa.org/donate

During the supply drive on Sept. 17, the goal was to create 20 welcome kits. Nearly 60 welcome kits were created.