MUNCIE, Ind. – Nearly 60 refugees from Afghanistan are now settled in Muncie, with more to come in the next few weeks and months.
“We have a new family coming in today,” Ari Hurwitz, executive director of Muncie Afghan Refugee Resettlement Committee (MARRC), said Wednesday.
That brings the total of “new neighbors,” as those involved with the MARRC effort call newly settled Muncie residents, to 58. That number is up from 37 at the beginning of 2022.
The current total of 58 includes 31 children and all but three preschoolers are enrolled in Muncie Community Schools, Hurwitz told The Star Press.
In advance of the next MARRC public meeting, planned for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 1, over Zoom, the group updated members and supporters in a recent email.
Among the points touched on:
MARRC has raised $215,000 to support the new Muncie families and individuals in meeting expenses like housing, furniture, clothing and help with bills for six months. Donations are still needed.
Dick’s Sporting Goods of Muncie has donated new soccer balls, cleats, shin guards and soccer socks for every new resident who wants to play soccer.
Delaware County Futbol Club is helping the new soccer players with registration for the winter indoor soccer season.
Many of the adults who have resettled in Muncie are working, and are progressing toward getting driver's licenses.
Muncie’s MARRC refugees were processed through Camp Atterbury, and officials announced a few days ago that the Operation Allies Welcome program there was winding down after more than 7,200 Afghans had moved through. During the program, refugees were resettled in 45 states, and more than 700 have settled in Indiana.
The phasing out of Camp Atterbury doesn’t mean the end of refugees coming to Muncie, Hurwitz said. Some who have settled in Muncie have come from other locations. Hurwitz also noted that the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, is open to more flights to the United States, and Afghans already here are encouraging relatives to come.
“Fifty families was our initial goal,” he noted, adding that the U.S. State Department had accelerated the program, moving up the timeline for sending individuals and families around the country.
“Our (new) goal is 30 families, about 100 new neighbors,” Hurwitz said. “That would be tremendous.”
For information about MARRC and to watch its Feb. 1 meeting, the group’s Facebook page is facebook.com/marrc2021
This article originally appeared on Muncie Star Press: New Muncie Afghan residents are working, in school, playing soccer