When you’ve had to leave your homeland and travel to the other side of the globe in search of a safe place to live, it means the world to find a friendly face and helping hands when you arrive. For Afghan refugees coming to Owensboro, Ky., that welcome is provided by the volunteers of the Owensboro International Center.
In a normal year, the International Center will help bring in about 40 refugees. But these are not normal times, and the center recently accepted about 150 in the space of just 10 days.
The new arrivals are not typical refugees, either, according to Anna Allen, executive director of the International Center. Many have bachelor’s and master’s degree, and speak at least some English, having worked with the U.S. military in Afghanistan.
These skills have opened up the range of employment opportunities available to them. Supporting the International Center in its efforts to link these individuals with local employers, the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce organized a jobs fair, where businesses – among them Yager Materials, a subsidiary of Carmeuse Americas – attended to meet the Afghans.
“We were lucky enough to be invited to the jobs fair to meet this group of individuals,” said Chyna Kelton, human resources manager at Yager Materials.
In fact, the interest from Yager and other Owensboro employers has been so positive, the International Center is hopeful that all of the Afghans will soon find jobs among the Owensboro community.