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Afghan refugees aided the U.S. during the war. Now they need Tampa Bay’s help | Editorial
About 58,000 refugees are expected to settle in the country.
Malalai Rostami (left), her mother and her younger brother at their new apartment near the University of South Florida in Tampa. Rostami and her family recently fled Afghanistan.
Malalai Rostami (left), her mother and her younger brother at their new apartment near the University of South Florida in Tampa. Rostami and her family recently fled Afghanistan. [ Aya Diab | Times ]
This article represents the opinion of the Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board.
Published Nov. 12, 2021

Afghan refugees need our help. Thousands of them were forced to flee the country when U.S. troops pulled out and the Taliban took over. These are the people who supported our forces, sometimes for years, in so many different roles from cooks to interpreters and drivers to engineers. Staying in Afghanistan would have been a death sentence for them and possibly their immediate families, too.

Transitioning to a new country and a new city isn’t easy. So many of them have come with nothing, or close to nothing — little money, few possessions, no credit, no references and little idea how to navigate everyday life in America. They need places to live, beds to sleep on, food to eat. They also need jobs, training and help finding a solid footing in a new country. The government is assisting. So are non-profit organizations. But more is needed, especially help with housing.

Malalai Rostami sits in her new apartment in Tampa on Nov. 3, 2021. It was furnished with donations collected by Radiant Hands. Rostami, who worked for the U.S. government at the Kabul airport fled Afghanistan when the Taliban took power following the withdrawal of U.S. Armed Forces.
Malalai Rostami sits in her new apartment in Tampa on Nov. 3, 2021. It was furnished with donations collected by Radiant Hands. Rostami, who worked for the U.S. government at the Kabul airport fled Afghanistan when the Taliban took power following the withdrawal of U.S. Armed Forces. [ AYA DIAB | Tampa Bay Times ]

Malalai Rostami recently explained to the Times Christopher Spata and Aya Diab how she fled Afghanistan and wound up in Tampa with her mother and five younger siblings. She had worked with the U.S. military as an air traffic controller. A non-profit helped them find an apartment, fully furnished with a refrigerator full of food.

“I’m so happy to be here,” said Rostami, 24, who hopes to work as an air-traffic controller in the United States.

About 58,000 Afghan refugees are expected to settle in the United States. And given all they did for our troops, we should be happy to have them. They helped our nation during the war. Now they need our help to get a solid start in their new country.

Want to help?

Those interested in volunteering or donating, or those with rental properties available to refugees, can contact Sabahat Khan, housing team lead for Radiant Hands, at 813-545-5554 or khanrealtorfl@gmail.com, or Yasmin Sayed, community engagement manager for Lutheran Services Florida, at 813-293-4854 or Yasmin.Sayed@lsfnet.org.

Gulf Coast Jewish Family and Community Services is also helping Afghan refugees.

Editorials are the institutional voice of the Tampa Bay Times. The members of the Editorial Board are Editor of Editorials Graham Brink, Sherri Day, Sebastian Dortch, John Hill, Jim Verhulst and Chairman and CEO Paul Tash. Follow @TBTimes_Opinion on Twitter for more opinion news.

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