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Charlotte groups welcome newly arrived Afghan refugees

A coalition of organizations held a welcome party in Reedy Creek Park and want to keep helping the newly-arrived families get settled to life in the U.S.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — WCNC Charlotte learned that at least 20 Afghan families will arrive in Charlotte, fleeing the Taliban’s invasion in Afghanistan.

An event to welcome those who have already arrived was held at Reedy Creek Park on Saturday, organized by the Save Our Allies coalition. The coalition is made up of The Independence Fund and the Mighty Oaks Foundation.

RELATED: Afghans face hunger crisis, adding to Taliban's challenges

Together, the two groups helped evacuate 12,000 Afghans. The next goal is to help them resettle.

“Afghan SIVs, interpreters, widows, Christians, orphans,” said Lexie Rock with the Independence Fund. “It really encompassed a lot of people that we were able to get out to safety.”

Around 50 people gathered at the park, handing out supplies, eating pizza, and playing volleyball. Zia Ghafoori, who was in attendance, spent 14 years working as an interpreter for the US army in Afghanistan.

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Seven years ago, he moved with his family to the United States, settling in Charlotte. Ghafoori told WCNC Charlotte that the people left behind in Afghanistan who have any connection to the United States are in immediate danger.

“They’re looking for a place to hide,” said Ghafoori, “But, as you know, the Taliban -- everything is in their hands. They could find them easily.”

Geeta Amiri, her husband, and their daughter recently arrived in America. Amiri says her husband was also an interpreter with the US Army’s Special Forces but left most of their family back in Afghanistan.

RELATED: How you can help Afghan refugees

“There’s no work right now. No [going] out,” she said. “It’s just a dangerous place. They’re living in darkness right now.”

Amiri said she wants to help other refugees arriving in America from Afghanistan. Both she and Ghafoori hope the U.S. government will intervene and help those still in Afghanistan.

“Physically we are here, but our mind is in Afghanistan,” Ghafoori said when describing his pain.

At Reedy Creek Park, organizers handed out blankets, wipes, hand sanitizers, and school supplies. Rock said the Save Our Allies coalition will help resettled Afghans with housing and other things needed when moving to a new country. For those that want to help, the coalition has resources on its website.

Contact Indira Eskieva at ieskieva@wcnc.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram.

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