CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte is one of six North Carolina communities -- including Raleigh, New Bern, Durham, Greensboro, and Asheville -- that will soon welcome 1,169 Afghan refugees.
Resettlement agencies have enough funds to help families for the first 90 days, and after that period, Charlotte nonprofits are prepared to help refugees in various ways.
Project 658 is a faith-based non-profit that offers mental health counseling, ESL classes, and job skills training to Charlotte immigrants and refugees.
One of the classes the organization offers is Make Welcome Sewing. Julia Camenisch has been teaching the sewing class for eight years.
“These women are really stressed,” Camenisch said. “They’ve been through a lot of trauma. It’s hard, but they come here and it’s like warm, inviting and creative. They really relax, they have fun, they laugh.”
Camenisch said over the years, she has taught women from Congo, Syria, Myanmar, Nepal, Ethiopia and Afghanistan.
While classes do reach capacity, she says she looks forward to teaching the class to Afghan women who will soon arrive in Charlotte. She says refugee women have been through so much, and the class provides support and job skills.
“I don’t know how they keep going, but they work hard, they love their families, they are creative,” Camenisch said. “I think we’re a stronger, better city because of the refugees that are here.”
Eric Bernier, who is the executive director of Project 658, said his organization works with many churches and relies on partnerships to help immigrants and refugees.
“There’s plenty of need and there’s plenty of work to go around,” said Bernier, “I wish we had more of us around the city.”
Project 658 is holding a yard this Saturday, Oct. 2, to fundraise for programs and classes. The yard sale will be held at 3646 Central Avenue in Charlotte from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Items for sale will include bag-making supplies, fabric by the bolt, buttons and commercial patterns.
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