INDIANAPOLIS – Since the end of the war in Afghanistan last year, nearly 800 Afghan evacuees have resettled in Indiana, according to a State Department spokesperson.
It’s now been more than a year since the end of the war. Soon after, nearly 7,000 evacuees arrived at Camp Atterbury.
Since then, some of those evacuees have become Hoosiers, and many have found jobs, enrolled in school and made new friends.
For Sayed Elhamuddin Sadat, working at the Indianapolis warehouse MWCold has been life-changing.
“I’m happy because I work here,” Sadat said. “There’s a lot of opportunity here.”
Sadat worked with the U.S. military as a translator in his native Afghanistan. He and his family arrived in the U.S. six months ago, he said. Since then, they’ve found housing, and Sadat just got his driver’s license.
“It’s really different,” Sadat said. “The culture, the people. But I’m happy to [be] able [to] a little bit speak English that it’s not difficult for me.”
Sadat is one of 12 Afghan evacuees employed by MWCold.
“It’s something that’s brought me so much joy,” said Tim Siddiq, the company’s chairman and CEO.
Siddiq has nearly 30 family members who have fled Afghanistan. But more than 60 of his relatives are still there, he said.
“It’s important to keep talking about this,” Siddiq said. “We can’t just forget. And we can’t forget interpreters, we can’t forget citizens over there.”
Some other Hoosiers also haven’t forgotten. A group of Columbus religious leaders helped seven families settle in the area.
“Our corporate neighbors have been fantastic,” said Rev. Felipe Martinez, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Columbus. “The companies have hired our folks, small businesses, large businesses, even the city.”
And Afghan children have enrolled in school.
“We work very hard together to make sure the students are involved in extracurricular activities and to make sure that they’re attending the birthday parties and all the fun events,” said Brittany Boezeman, who is teaching English language to 10 students in the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation.
As for Sayed Elhamuddin Sadat, he’s optimistic about his new life in Indiana.
“My future is here,” Sadat said. “It’s really brightness in the future.”
A bill with bipartisan backing has been introduced in Congress to help Afghan evacuees. Known as the Afghan Adjustment Act, it would prevent those involved with the U.S. mission in Afghanistan from losing their jobs or being deported as they navigate the immigration system.