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Organizations helping Afghan refugees in St. Louis with settlement, items, healthcare

"You have to think there’s a culture difference, language barrier," one organizer says.

ST. LOUIS — Since August, hundreds of Afghan refugees have made their way to St. Louis to resettle, making this city their new home. 

However, the transition can be a difficult one. That's where Affinia Healthcare steps in.

The health system is providing medical, dental and behavioral health services. It also has prenatal and pediatric services. 

Dr. Kendra Holmes is the Senior VP and COO for Affinia Healthcare.

"The big focus is on the behavioral health piece because a lot of trauma involved in this process and coming to a new country and not knowing what to do and what's going on," Dr. Holmes said. "Working with the International Institute has helped us quite a bit because we have the interpreters on site."

Many refugees are taking advantage of therapy and speaking with psychologists and therapists. The health system also has a child development center, so behavioral help can assist children, too.

Affinia Healthcare has already helped 235 Afghan refugees since September. 

Starting this week, about 350 new Afghan allies arriving in St. Louis learned they would have access to health care services provided by Affinia Healthcare at its 3930 South Broadway location and its mobile services provided at the International Institute of St. Louis, 3401 Arsenal Street.

They'll be able to help even more as 908 people are expected to arrive by September 2022.

"We want to really just provide the services to make their new life a little easier," Dr. Holmes shares.

Affinia Healthcare is covering the cost of healthcare with a federal grant, but sometimes that's not sufficient. It also depends on a wide array of funding sources and individual donor contributions. 

To make a donation to Affinia Healthcare, click here

Credit: KSDK

Making a house a home

Also in St. Louis city, the days at the House of Goods have been extremely busy.

The organization is the charity arm of the Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis, Inc and helps resettle refugees. 

The task manager and outreach coordinator, Lisa Grozdanic, says the group furnishes homes, buys groceries and provides new clothing.

For months, the organization has assisted Afghan refugees.

"We’ve helped hundreds in the last couple months," Grozdanic says. "We’re going to pick them up and bring them here to do their shopping and pick up clothing and essentials they need."

Some are officially housed. Others are in hotels, as they wait for housing.

"In the hotels, there are about roughly 150. We have a family of 10 and a family of 11, living in the hotels," Grozdanic adds. 

On weekends, they've been delivering hot meals and listening to their needs. Many families have children or expectant mothers. Once they transfer out and find homes, the transition continues.

5 On Your Side has learned it's the settling in part that may be the hardest move of all.

"You have to think there’s a culture difference, language barrier," Grozdanic says.

As more Afghan refugees develop a foundation in St. Louis, organizations like the House of Goods and Affinia, brace for a new wave to come. Fortunately, they are ready to guide them into their new home.

"St. Louis will be getting more families. Hopefully we continue to get the support from our community," Grozdanic says. 

If you'd like to donate to the House of Goods, they are in need of:

  • Grocery gift cards to Aldi and Walmart 
  • Snacks for children (no gelatin included)
  • Bottled water
  • Tea
  • Rice 
  • Flour
  • Sugar

Dr. Holmes also says if anyone has job opportunities to reach out to the International Institute. They've even started sharing job opportunities at Affinia for Afghan refugees.

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