PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — White House officials say Philadelphia International Airport is now the main hub for Afghan refugees. As the city plans for more arrivals in the coming weeks, the Health Department says they need help from people like you.
“I’d be like, ‘How are you?'” volunteer Diba Atar said. “And they’re like, ‘We’re just happy to be alive. Just happy to be here physically.'”
The elation of Aghan refugees as described by someone who helped them. Atar volunteered for 13 hours at the airport in late August, helping to translate for Afghans who just arrived.
“I just knew I wanted to be that person that I wish my parents and many of my family could’ve had when they first immigrated,” Atar said.
Atar’s expertise was speaking Farsi for the nearly 12,000 refugees who landed at Philadelphia International. Stephanie Stucka’s expertise is as a registered nurse.
“These are the people that contributed to the U.S. mission in the war,” Stucka said. “And I believe in promises made, promises kept.”
Stucka and Atar both volunteer with the Philadelphia Health Department’s Volunteer Medical Reserve Corps. They help with medical services, housing placement, and other immediate needs.
Now, this program is currently on pause. But it’s going to start up again eventually, and they’re going to need your help.
In addition to the immediate need at the airport, the refugees need long-term aid, as well. That’s where Kaytie Innamorati came in.
“I’ve been wanting to take action on something for a year, especially when the world just feels like it’s so out of control,” Innamorati said. “So, when I saw this opportunity, I said I’m launching myself at that one.”
Innamorati organized a book drive for Afghan youth. FEMA specifically asked for the Afghan Proverbs Illustrated book. She thought she’d raise about 10 of them but ended up with a car full of more than 200 books were donated.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Innamorati said. “It was really heartwarming. It felt really good to do something to help.”
As the search ramps up once again for more volunteers, Atar said she has one hope.
“I really hope people if they see the opportunity to volunteer, they take it and they work with those families that are really going through a lot,” Atar said.
If you’d like more information on volunteer opportunities, click here.