A network of support.
That’s what Exodus Refugee Immigration (ERI) is working to provide to some of the more than 6,600 Afghan refugees in Indiana awaiting resettlement.
The Indianapolis-based organization is just one of many groups in the U.S. working to help those who fled Afghanistan when the Taliban regained control of the country nearly two months ago.
While ERI is accepting donations to help Afghan refugees, according to its website, it takes more than food and shelter to welcome “those who have lost so much.”
And since it was announced that Indiana’s Camp Atterbury would be one of eight sites in the U.S. the Department of Defense would use to house refugees, others have stepped up to assist the newcomers.
Among them are Coral Briseño of Logansport. Her son, Marine Cpl. Humberto Sanchez, was killed in a suicide blast outside Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul days before the last U.S. plane departed from the country. During a vigil in Sanchez’s honor Sept. 22 at Logansport High School, Briseño set up a box for donations to help supply refugees with food, clothing and toys. She also set up donation sites throughout Cass County, where boxes will remain until the end of the month.
We can all learn from Briseño and the work she’s doing to help Afghan refugees. Having lost her son in Afghanistan, Briseño could easily be filled with resentment. Instead, she has chosen to honor her son and turn her grief into positivity.
The last image Briseño has of her son is a video where he is seen lifting a young girl over a wall at the Kabul airport. In an interview with Fort Wayne’s WPTA last month, Briseño said she watches the video over and over, and it motivates her to offer assistance to refugees looking to resettle in the U.S.
“That’s what my son was doing in the last day,” Briseño said, “that’s why … I have to do whatever I need to do to help these people because he was doing it, and he gave his life for these people.”
She also knows what it’s like to be in an unfamiliar country. In the interview, Briseño explained that she arrived in the U.S. when she was 17. “I didn’t have anything with me. … just my 1-year-old,” she said.
Briseño is among “those who have lost so much.” She is the woman who came to the U.S. with nothing but her child. And today, she is the woman setting an example of how we should create a network of support for our new neighbors.
The Kokomo Tribune Editorial Board