Rally for Afghan refugees pushes for more housing, volunteers

For months, Hameedullah Rokhan fought alongside NATO troops in Afghanistan, trying to keep the Taliban at bay. As the war-torn country’s government started to collapse, he fled his homeland.

Rokhan finally received a visa for refugees and moved his family to Montgomery County, Maryland.

He was a guest speaker at a rally Thursday to support Afghan refugees and families like his.

“When I moved here, I was so happy,” Rokhan said, who left Afghanistan in December. “Now we are feeling good and we are at rest now.”

Montgomery Councilman Evan Glass said he quickly planned the rally for two reasons.

The first was to send a clear message to people who don’t want Afghan refugees to settle in the U.S.

“We have seen what’s been on social media,” he said. “People are trying to be divisive about our moral obligation to help those who helped us.”

Several community groups are working with refugees, scrambling to find them jobs, apartments and enroll their children in school.

One group, the Montgomery County Muslim Foundation, said its biggest challenge is locating affordable housing.

“They are shattered,” said Saba Rashid, the foundation’s president. “I had a family yesterday and they just came with nothing. We’re talking to the country to provide some sort of subsidized housing.”

Glass said that’s the second reason why he organized the rally — to get more help for refugees, especially through volunteers.

“People want to help and they don’t know where to turn,” Glass said. “This was really to educate people on how we got this place and activate them to help.”

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