A D.C. region interfaith group celebrated a milestone this weekend as they helped their 100th refugee family find a home — and a new start — in the area.
Raz Mohammad and his family fled their home in Afghanistan to Islamabad, Pakistan, where they awaited a Special Immigrant Visa to the United States. They received that visa a few months ago and arrived in the U.S. on Oct. 13.
Because Raz had worked as an interpreter for the U.S. Army, his family had been targeted for retaliation by the Taliban.
On Friday, the Good Neighbors of Capitol Hill Refugee Resettlement Project furnished an apartment in Riverdale, Maryland, for Raz, his wife and two children. They are the 100th refugee family the group has helped since forming in 2016.
GNCH has helped more than 500 refugees settle into life in the D.C. region, most of them in Prince George’s County. Like the Mohammads, many of the refugees have served with U.S. or allied troops in Afghanistan as interpreters or in other critical capacities.
Raz’s brother, Khan, had also served as an interpreter in Afghanistan and moved to Prince George’s County in 2015. He told WTOP there was no choice but to leave their home in Afghanistan.
“We are really grateful that the United States gave us the opportunity and (a) new life,” Khan said. “We couldn’t even go out. We were not feeling safe. But right now, we are free, and we are so happy.”
“When he (Raz) came here, he did not have anything in the house beside one little bed for the kids,” said Khan. “And Good Neighbors Capitol Hill, they helped them a lot. They filled the whole house for them.”
In addition to the home, GNCH provided the Mohammads furniture, linens, kitchen utensils and appliances, plus a two week food supply.
GNCH volunteers also offer English language tutoring and assistance with job preparation.
Among the congregations that form GNCH are: Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church, Capitol Hill United Methodist Church, Christ Church Washington Parish, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Hill Havurah, Lutheran Church of the Reformation, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and St. Peter’s Catholic Church.
Khan said the work of GNCH has been a lifeline to people like his brother and himself.
“We were in a really bad situation. We weren’t feeling well,” said Khan. “But when we saw them (GNCH), and they were saying, ‘we are here for you guys, please let us know what you guys need,’ I knew that they were so awesome. They were so great and that’s something that every human should do for others.”