DENVER (KDVR) — Afghan evacuees have started trickling into Colorado, ready to start a new life after fleeing the Taliban.
Colorado leaders are preparing to resettle 865 refugees, according to projections from the Biden administration.
Among the first to arrive was Yall Wakili, who boarded one of the final U.S. planes out of Afghanistan three weeks ago.
“Taliban came and destroyed everything, so we lost hope,” he said. “They were searching for those that were working with foreigner people. Because they think those that work with foreigner people — are enemy of Islam.”
‘The people are nice, great, kind’
Wakili said his father worked alongside U.S. military forces, allowing the family the opportunity to leave the country.
After researching their options, Wakili quickly settled on Colorado. His family is living in a small apartment in Northglenn, donated to them by a refugee organization.
“There’s a lot of opportunity, that’s why I choose here,” he said. “The people are nice, great, kind.”
Wakili, 20, hopes to pursue a college education in business and potentially work as a translator for the U.S. government.
“I’m optimistic about the future,” he said. “I’m trying my best to be useful for you guys, or for the government of the U.S. in this situation.”
Refugees seek work in Colorado
But Wakili admitted it will not come without struggles. Currently, evacuees are not eligible for food stamps, Medicaid or other government programs.
He’s also the only member of his family who speaks English and said finding work has been difficult for his parents.
“Sometimes our friends come and bring food for us because we don’t have any income, because we still don’t have any job. We apply for job, but we don’t have any cash, so they help us,” he said.
Still, he said starting over here is far better than the alternative they faced in Afghanistan. He said the community has already welcomed them with open arms.
“We never feel that we are in different country, we feel that we are in our country, so they help us a lot, and we are really appreciative,” he said.
Saturday, the Metropolitan North Denver Islamic Center will hold a resource fair for refugees, giving out COVID-19 vaccines and information on re-settling in the United States.