After announcing it will welcome about 200 Afghan refugees this fall, Bowling Green’s International Center of Kentucky has received an outpouring of support from the community, Executive Director Albert Mbanfu told the Daily News on Wednesday.
“The support has just been so overwhelming,” Mbanfu said, noting the resettlement agency’s phone lines have been flooded with calls from individuals asking how they can support or mentor Afghan families.
Any negative response the center has received has been minimal, Mbanfu said.
The International Center is still planning for the arrival of about 200 Afghan refugees, though Mbanfu said he expects to get an update soon about when the first family will arrive in Bowling Green.
In the meantime, the International Center is exploring housing options and supplies for the Afghan arrivals and needs the community’s help, Mbanfu said.
Mbanfu could not confirm how many of those arrivals will be school-age children and families, he said.
However, Mbanfu speculated that as much as 90% of the arrivals could be families and 10% single adults. Of that 90%, more than half could be under age 18, he said.
Mbanfu previously told the Daily News that all of the refugees “have helped a U.S. entity in one way or another,” whether working as interpreters for American troops on the ground, a nongovernmental organization or other entities with U.S. ties.
After fleeing the recent chaos in Afghanistan and its capital, Kabul, Mbanfu said the refugees are coming with even fewer resources than the typical arrivals the center welcomes.
They are in need of financial donations to help cover rent as they work to build their lives here, Mbanfu said.
“They are coming in with limited money,” Mbanfu said.
Donations can be made through the center’s website at icofky.com/donations.
Essential items are also needed, Mbanfu said. The center is trying to track down furniture for apartments, including bedding and mattresses that Mbanfu said must be new. Toiletries like shampoo, laundry detergent, soap and deodorant are also needed, he said.
Additionally, the International Center is looking for mentors to check in on families and show them around the community, including where they can shop for groceries and how to use public transportation, Mbanfu said.
The center can also work with individuals who want to temporarily host Afghans in their homes. Any mentor would need to undergo a background check, Mbanfu said.
– The Bowling Green International Center can be reached at 270-781-8336
– Follow education reporter Aaron Mudd on Twitter @NewsByAaron or visit bgdailynews.com.