Biggest local stories of 2022: Afghan refugees find a safe haven in Helena

Jesse Chaney

While some of the Afghan refugees who arrived in Helena this year ended up moving elsewhere, four of the families are putting down roots here.

“This does feel like our new home,” refugee Fardeel Ghaforzada told the Independent Record through a translator in August. “We had a good life in Afghanistan, but we were always under the threat of death. This has been a real relief to focus on our new lives.”

The refugees started coming to Montana in January via Missoula, where they were processed by the International Rescue Committee. They were then released to the care of Helena-based nonprofit Hands On Global and its newly formed Helena Afghan Refugee Resettlement Team (HARRT).

Hands On Global Executive Director Valerie Hellermann said two of the families that came to Helena were reunited with family members in Texas and one refugee moved to Virginia to attain his medical license. She said the four families who remain in Helena have a collective total of 11 children, including three who were born as United States citizens this year.

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