MUNCIE — An Indiana college town is looking to welcome Afghan evacuees from Camp Atterbury in hopes those families decide to make it their new forever home.
The Muncie Afghan Refugee Resettlement Committee (MARRC) started a little more than a month ago. Bibi Bahrami is one of the founders.
“This country was built by immigrants, and we have to continue that mission,” Bahrami said.
Nearly a dozen sub-committees are focusing on aspects like jobs, housing, and education for the city’s newest neighbors. Muncie’s mayor is hopeful this program can help the city economically.
“We are open, and we are trying to move forward, and we will continue to look at new ideas and new opportunities,” Mayor Dan Ridenour said.
Bahrami’s goal is to sponsor 50 families to resettle in Muncie.
“Whether it ends up being five families or 10 families or 20 families, we don’t know yet how that will all pan out, but that type of growth is important,” Ridenour said.
Helping others is Bahrami’s passion, and for the mother of six, the journey those at Camp Atterbury are currently living through is one she knows all too well.
At 13, Bahrami and her family fled to a refugee camp in Pakistan from Afghanistan and lived there for six years. In 1986, she resettled in Muncie, reuniting with her now-husband, went on to get her GED, and earned a degree in accounting at Ball State University, all the while raising six children.
“I am a strong believer in my faith, I’m a very positive person. I said okay, God has a better plan for all of us,” Bahrami said.
Post 9/11, Bahrami said she turned to directly help families in Afghanistan through her nonprofit AWAKEN. In the years since, the nonprofit has helped more than 100,000 people with a focus on health care, education, and vocational training.
“We’ve been working tirelessly the last 20 years to help,” Bahrami said.
MARRC is still in its infancy.
It only started about five weeks ago, but already the committee has sent a truckload of donations to Camp Atterbury.
“I receive constant messages from people that they want to help. That tells me something. I always tell people I’m very inspired by them. My community here, and as a whole, the United States, how beautiful it is they feel they have to help,” Bahrami said.
Bahrami wants to thank the community for the outpouring of support but also asks Hoosiers to continue to keep the families in Afghanistan in their thoughts.
“What my goal for Muncie is always to bring us together as a unified community that we are working together. We can be an example to other cities,” Bahrami said.