TULSA, Okla. — Hundreds of Afghan refugees are looking to start new lives in Tulsa as local organizations try to help get them started.
Victory Church in Tulsa is one of multiple groups in the area working to help the refugees out. Victory Pastor Paul Daugherty told 2 News Oklahoma he knew they had to do something as they watched the video from the Kabul airport showing thousands of people trying to leave Afghanistan.
“So we started looking at what planes we could rent that are in nearby countries that could fly into the airport and start evacuating refugees," Daugherty said. "Within the first few weeks, we had 365 people on planes that were getting out and then the following weeks it went up to 450 and just continued to help as many people as we could.”
Daugherty said they had a missionary in the area to help vet the people getting on the planes, and from there they had several checkpoints over the span of a month's time before getting to their final destinations.
Oklahoma became the destination for 1,800 total Afghan refugees, 800 headed to Tulsa.
Members of Victory Church prepared homes for their arrival.
“I would say two months ago when we began our journey at the airport in Kabul, it was the most difficult day of our life," says Tayyab Ghazniwal, one of the refugees relocating to Tulsa. "There was 3 checkpoints at the airport and there was 10,000 people in line."
He called the Kabul airport's checkpoint "terrifying" and said images from the day haunt them, but it wasn't the end of their journey as they left Afghanistan.
"From the Afghanistan airport in Kabul, we went to Qatar and were there overnight, and we slept on actual metal slabs," Ghazniwal says. "Then from Qatar we went to Germany and were there for 8 days. After 8 days in Germany, we went to New Mexico at Fort Bliss, and we were there for 45 days, and we lived in tents.”
Once they arrived in Tulsa, Victory had their housing ready to go for the family to begin their new life.
“The fact that we can live with a sense of security and peace because people don’t realize how important that is psychologically to a human.”
Ghazniwal told 2 News Oklahoma many of their family members were left behind in Kabul.
Victory Church partnered with Catholic Charities and several other local churches to help refugees arriving in the U.S. Anyone looking to help can donate to the rescue fund here.
See the full story as these refugees moved into their new home THURSDAY on 2 News Oklahoma at 10 p.m.
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