Afghan refugees are arriving in California. Former refugees are helping them resettle

By Giuliana Mayo

How do you resettle in LA after leaving turmoil and chaos in Afghanistan behind? Some Afghans who managed to evacuate are building new lives in California with help from LA aid groups.

Miry Whitehill is the founder of Miry’s List, a nonprofit that offers temporary housing, career mentorship, and more to refugees. Her group has launched an emergency action fund to help Afghan refugees resettle. 

Miry Whitehill founded Miry’s List in 2016 to help refugees from all over the world when they arrive in LA. Photo by Christina Gandolfo.

“In the last seven days alone, we have enrolled eight families from Afghanistan in our program,” she says. “We know that these families have been to hell and back to get their families to safety. So whatever we can do to make sure that we have the resources available so that we can respond quickly to our families’ very urgent needs –– that is a successful outcome for us.”

Rabia Ahmadi came from Afghanistan in 2016 with her husband and children, and now serves as the family services director at Miry’s List. She says, “We are safe here, we appreciate that. But our families are not safe. Our friends are not safe.”

She works alongside government agencies to connect newcomers to LA’s Afghan community, enroll them in English language classes, and help them get the basic necessities they need to begin their lives in the Southland.

“We approach this work in three pillars of our programming: survive, hive, and thrive,” says Whitehill, stressing the importance of a community support system. “Being in contact with these families, letting them know that they have friends and a support system, that goes a long way.”