SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Afghans who have escaped the country since the Taliban takeover have begun arriving in the San Diego area.
In the last week-and-a-half, volunteers from the Helping El Cajon Refugees Facebook page have set up three apartments for Afghan families who arrived before the Taliban takeover.
Working with resettlement agencies, the group gathers donations to help families begin their new lives.
“What we try to do is put everything in the apartment that they lost when they had to flee,” said lead organizer Jill Galante.
In the past nine days, the group has also received five emergency requests to help Afghans who assisted the US and escaped after the Taliban takeover.
On Friday night, they learned of a couple who arrived and was staying with a friend in National City.
“A young couple had arrived. They had managed to to get through to the Kabul airport with their two-month old infant, with nothing but the clothing on their backs,” said Galante.
Some eight volunteers gathered supplies, including hygiene products, bedding and newborn supplies.
The next night, they got another call. A local Afghan had gotten his wife and young kids, who were living in Afghanistan, out on one of the last commercial flights before the airport shut down.
“He had to sell everything he owned including his car to get his family to the airport and get them out. The tickets cost $5,000,” said Galante.
The volunteers supplied beds for his family. In all, the group has assisted five families staying in El Cajon and National City.
Galante says immigrants are grateful, but worried about family left behind.
“It's hard for them to be like, ‘I’m glad it's over.’ It’s not over. They are plagued by guilt and worry,” said Galante. “Absolutely traumatized. Trying to assimilate into new situation they didn’t see themselves in.”
Galante says many more will be flown from military bases in the next few weeks.
"We have been forewarned that they are coming, and that it’s going to be more than we’ve ever had before,” said Galante.
Galante says once the families find permanent housing, volunteers will go back and do the full apartment set-up.