HAYWARD, Calif. - Donations collected over the weekend were like gifts of hope and humanity for Afghan Americans working to help refugees coming from Afghanistan to the Bay Area.
"It was really overwhelming to get all the support and the love. It was the light that we needed in these dark times right now," said Tamana Mehdavi, a member of the United Afghan Association and a Hayward resident of Afghan descent.
At the Masjid Abu Bakr Al Siddiq, a Hayward mosque, people brought enough supplies of food, clothing, furniture, and other goods to fill two moving trucks, as community groups and non-profits wait for an expected wave of Afghans to arrive in the coming weeks.
"They are to be quarantined and go through health checks, background checks, and you name it before they are actually released," said Hayward Mayor Protem Aisha Wahab, who is also Afghan American and on the board of the Afghan Coalition.
Wahab says she's proud that the city and Bay Area residents have been stepping up. So far, a coalition of groups have collected about $100,000 in monetary donations in partnership with Fremont's Afghan Refugee Help Fund: https://www.fremont.gov/4058/Afghan-Refugee-Help
Volunteers are signing up to help with translation, housing, education, and support services for refugees who will likely seek out areas with large Afghan populations.
"They will be traveling to Afghan hubs, that means the Bay Area, L.A., New York City, DC-Virginia area, potentially Seattle," said Wahab.
The City of Hayward has created a website dedicated to helping Afghan refugees with links to non-profits and other resources.
"We have staff who are going through that responding to people trying to point them to different resources. We also have on that page a list of legal resources," said Kelly McAdoo, Hayward City Manager
On Monday, East Bay Congressman Eric Swalwell who represents Hayward posted a message on Twitter writing, "To each of my Afghan-American constituents: As the U.S. military prepares to leave Kabul, I want you to know I will not stop working on your family’s refugee case. Just because the military will be gone doesn’t mean my staff and I won’t keep helping. Keep the faith."
Congressman Swalwell's office staff said that as of Monday they have received 6,000 requests for help with visas and safe passage out of Afghanistan for individuals and families.
"I think it's really important to also not forget those who've been left behind," said Tamana Mehdavi, "They risked their lives, their families' lives, to support and to work together with the United States."