BANGOR, Maine — Resettlement groups are preparing to help up to 100 Afghans build new lives here in Maine.
Hannah DeAngelis, director of refugee and immigration for Catholic Charities Maine, told NEWS CENTER Maine she expects the Afghan evacuees to start coming to Maine in a couple of weeks.
“People left Afghanistan in a lot of different circumstances, as we’ve been seeing," DeAngelis said. “We’re reaching out to all of our state partners and making sure other people have an orientation to [the Afghan Placement and Assistance program]."
The Afghan Placement and Assistance program (APA) was created by the federal government to assist with the resettlement of people from Afghanistan here in the U.S.
Catholic Charities Maine is working with is the Maine Immigrants' Rights Coalition, which is meeting with Afghans already living in Maine and preparing them to help the incoming evacuees.
“What’s going to be needed past when folks come is cultural brokering services, which are done just based on someone knowing your language, knows your culture,” Mufalo Chitam, executive director of the Maine Immigrants' Rights Coalition, explained.
Catholic Charities Maine will help the evacuees finding housing.
"If we can not find an apartment before somebody arrives, some people are often staying with a family member or briefly in a hotel," DeAngelis said. "Then we are responsible for finding an apartment that is affordable to the family.”
DeAngelis added that one challenge her organization will likely face is finding affordable housing for Afghans. She said they’ll be looking not only in Portland, but also in Lewiston-Auburn, Biddeford, and Augusta. Last year, Catholic Charities Maine applied to the federal government to have Bangor become a resettlement site and are waiting to hear back.
Once the task of securing housing has been accomplished, there’s still plenty more to do, DeAngelis said.
"We're responsible for everything someone needs to restart at the beginning," she said. "That includes things like furnishing the house with not only furniture but cleaning supplies, dishes, things that you need if you walk into an empty apartment. We're responsible for enrolling kids in schools and adults in adult education services for language learning."