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Four San Diego non-profits awarded grants to help Afghan refugees

License to Freedom helps refugees resettle
License to Freedom.png
Posted at 4:56 PM, Dec 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-09 23:31:27-05

EL CAJON, Calif. (KGTV) -- Four San Diego non-profit groups are the recipients of a national $1.3 million grant to help Afghan refugees resettle in America.

A lot of Zamzama Said's day is spent on the phone, helping people secure housing. She and her sister Shabnam both work at License to Freedom, a refugee and immigrant assistance non-profit in El Cajon. They said it was their way to pay it forward.

"I know exactly how difficult it is for newcomers," Crisis counselor Shabnam Said said.

Their parents fled war-torn Afghanistan in 1989. They eventually made it to the states 14 years ago.

"There were missile attacks over their house, and my uncle lost his family, so thinking about that, it's heartbreaking," Rental Assistance Coordinator Zamzama Said said.

Since US troops pulled back from Afghanistan, the organization has been focusing many of its cases on Afghans. They provide services and assistance such as housing, healthcare, even enrolling into schools and getting driver's licenses.

"They need a lot of help. They need people to speak their language. They need people just to tell them that you're going to be ok," License to Freedom Executive Director Dilkhwaz Ahmed said.

This week, License to Freedom was chosen as one of four San Diego non-profits to get part of the Schultz Family Foundation's $1.3 million grant to help Afghan refugees. The foundation was created by former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. The other local groups include MAKE Project, Hope for San Diego, and Afghan Community Culture Center.

"This program really shines a light on the goodness that exists all across the country," Schultz Family Foundation Sr. Advisor Ravij Chandrasekaran said. "It's essentially neighbors helping new neighbors."

The ladies said, with whatever assistance they are able to provide the families, they hope that it will help them thrive in Main Street America.

"We're fortunate enough to help them with something, start their lives in San Diego, and go on from there," Zamzama Said said.

"I would like our fellow Afghans to know that you are not alone. We are here with them," Shabnam Said said.

License to Freedom currently has six Afghan refugee caseworkers working around the clock. With the grant, they hope to hire another.