Refugees in northeast Wisconsin are showing sympathy to the situation that could bring thousands of Afghanis to the state in the coming weeks. The Department of Defense announced this week that they hope to relocate up to 30,000 Afghan Special Immigrant Visa applicants into the United States. A portion of those people could be coming to Wisconsin, where they will be housed at Fort McCoy. It will be the first time the military installation near Tomah will host refugees since 14,000 Cubans fled there to escape from Fidel Castro’s regime in 1980. Community Services Agency (COMSA) President and Executive Director Said Hassan can relate after escaping violence in his native Somalia with his parents when he was just 10 years old. He lived in refugee camps in Kenya and South Africa before eventually immigrating to the United States. Even though the Afghan refugees will likely experience a culture shock and other hurdles upon their arrival, he appreciates the United States’ willingness to welcome them.
Hassan helped create COMSA in 2016 to help serve the Green Bay area’s refugee and immigrant populations, which are primarily Somali, Hmong, or Congolese. His organization offers citizenship classes, youth leadership mentoring, women’s English classes, and after-school programs.
Picture courtesy of COMSA