MUNCIE, Ind. — People in Muncie are excited about the possibility of having new Afghan neighbors.
"We'll take as many as we can handle," said Muncie Afghan Refugee Resettlement Committee (MARRC) communications sub-committee chairman Tony Sandleben.
BiBi Bahrami is the founder of Awaken, an organization that works to improve the lives of women and children in Afghanistan, and she recently helped launch MARRC. Bahrami, who's also a former refugee from Afghanistan, knows how important it is to have support when resettling.
"Who knows what these refugees will bring us? This country was built on immigrants. We have a positive hope that they can make a difference," said Bahrami.
The committee plans to help the refugees find housing, offer rent support and other personal needs.
"It's just the right thing to do," said Sandleben. "These people that are coming here, who are soon to be our friends and neighbors, helped us fight a war. Most of them helped us in our military effort against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda."
Sandleben said it's a win-win situation for the community.
"Business owners are excited about the possibility of more employees, fixing their staffing shortages. The school district is excited to welcome them in and possibly getting more students in their classrooms. Property owners are excited to fill their vacant properties," said Sandleben.
But most importantly, it gives the city an opportunity to set an example for other communities.
"The United States has always been the land of opportunity, right? Now, Muncie is kind of becoming the city of opportunity for these people. Coming here and build a better life for themselves — that's what we all want, is to build a better life for ourselves," said Sandleben.
"We will learn so much from this. Our children will learn what these people can bring to our communities. They will appreciate and be grateful for what they have," said Bahrami.