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Local nonprofit helping Afghan refugees, asks for community support

Posted at 9:52 PM, Aug 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-26 09:04:06-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- "I would really like to have people sleep in a comfortable place," said Dr. Rasha Roshdy, "especially after what they have been through."

Dr. Roshdy, the founder of a local nonprofit Amna Sanctuary, said it started as a computer literacy program to help refugees navigate technology during the pandemic. But since 2020, they have been taking in Afghan refugees who have fled from their homes.

Dr. Roshdy immigrated to the United States in 1996. Born in Egypt, she worked as a journalist, married an American soldier, then moved to Arizona, not knowing the English language or culture. She moved to San Diego after the September 11 attacks.

She stated now more than ever, her organization is relying on community support.

This week alone, Amna Sanctuary opened its doors to 4 new Afghan refugee families. Dr. Roshdy expressed the transition for them has been an especially difficult one compared to other refugees.

"Some just learned that they are not going to be able to have contact with their families and you can imagine," she explained, "that is not something they are happy with."

Amna Sanctuary is currently assisting more than 34 families, the majority of which are from Afghanistan. The recent families who have sought her care are staying with their family members who happen to be a part of Amna Sanctuary already.

Dr. Roshdy explained the current situation is less than ideal.

"It's already families of 6 or 8 that live in a two bedroom apartment, and now they received a family of 8 or 9 or 10 to come live with them in the same apartment."

Dr. Roshdy said these families are coming with just the clothes on their backs, and spending the night on cushions instead of proper beds. She said the nonprofit needs donations of food and hygiene products that will fill 'Green Baskets' given to families. Typically, the baskets are given monthly, but they have been given multiple times throughout the week because of demand.

Furniture is also an imperative need. The Amna Sanctuary is accepting furniture donations to help fill the temporary housing situations for most of these families.

The nonprofit also creating a counseling program to help refugees recover from their trauma.

"It's going to have long-term effects. You don't go through what they went through, and it's going to add a hurdle to their adjusting to American culture."

Dr. Roshdy, who has her doctorate in Education Leadership, shared that the organization was granted a VELA grant to conduct a culture and literature course. However, to get to inducting that program, she said there is still much to be done.

First, they need to gain funds for the counseling program and supplies to keep families stocked with the necessities.

Amna Sanctuary said they need the San Diego community's assistance, as they continue to welcome families that are fleeing their home countries.

"I believe because I came here as an immigrant that the first people you meet either make you are break you, either help you adjusting and thrive in the new culture you are thrown in or set you back. So I want to be the Welcome Wagon and help the people newly arrived and don't know much."

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