Roanoke charity gains additional housing for Afghan refugees

Published: Jan. 1, 2022 at 8:46 AM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Since the crisis in Afghanistan began, Friendship House has been working to house additional refugees coming to Roanoke, and the charity reached a big goal before the New Year began.

“For the last four years, we’ve just had one apartment; now we’ll have four.”

In September, Friendship House of Roanoke set its sights on buying two houses in the city, planned as safe havens for Afghan refugees. By the end of 2021, they’ve raised $226,000, enough to purchase the properties that will provide temporary housing for up to 12 families per year.

Aaron Dowdy, Executive Director of Friendship House, said, “Purchasing two houses in this day and age is a big deal, and starting from scratch without any kind of base at all, we were able to raise the funds to purchase these houses. It was exciting and the day before Christmas we were able to open this house to a family in need.”

The organization is helping a dozen families with housing, school supplies, food, and English tutoring.

“They’re coming from traumatic experiences most of the time,” said Dowdy. “Violence, war, persecution, and they’re coming with almost nothing. So to come into a situation that’s furnished with a cupboard full of groceries, it’s a big relief for them to know they have friends and neighbors here who want to care for them.

Dowdy says families typically stay in the homes for three to four months while they gain work visas, social security, and look for employment.

“We’ve seen they’ve slowly but surely made the transition. They pick up English, most of them find jobs really quickly and maintain those jobs here in the community,” adds Dowdy.

Renovations on the first home should be completed by the end of January, but the work doesn’t stop there.

A complete overall of the third apartment will be the biggest project yet.

“Anybody who’s got a skill or trade, whether it’s landscaping or electrical work or plumbing, even something like painting or cleaning, we could always use the help,” says Dowdy.

To learn more about how you can help, click here.

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