State Rep. Maureen Bauer: Camp Atterbury, South Bend return goodwill through Afghan refugee resettlement
INDIANAPOLIS - State Rep. Maureen Bauer (D-South Bend) yesterday toured Camp Atterbury, which has served as a temporary home for about 7,200 Afghan refugees since September as a part of a nationwide effort known as Operation Allies Welcome.
During their tour on Thursday (Dec. 2), Bauer and fellow House Democrats, State Reps. Sheila Klinker (D-Lafayette), Chris Campbell (D-West Lafayette) and Mike Andrade (D-Munster), learned more about the programming and resettling assistance Camp Atterbury and its fellow state agencies are providing for refugees. The legislators were also able to see a majority of the residential areas, including the cafeteria, barracks and classrooms.
At Camp Atterbury, Afghan refugees have had the opportunity to acclimate to moving to the U.S., including taking English lessons and workforce development classes. Staff and other state agencies have also assisted in job placement and housing for refugees resettling across the nation.
“Camp Atterbury is one of eight temporary housing bases across the U.S. I am proud that Indiana has become a safe place of refuge for those seeking a better life, many of whom served our country alongside our U.S. troops,” Bauer said.
Of the 7,000 refugees, only 3,600 remain, awaiting permanent residence. All refugees are expected to be permanently housed by January. The city of South Bend, in coordination with local charities, will help welcome 10-15 Afghan families.
“South Bend has a long tradition of welcoming immigrant families. These individuals helped us in Afghanistan, and now we’re returning the favor.”
The Indiana House of Representatives is currently holding a donation drive to benefit the remaining Afghan refugees at Camp Atterbury. New, unbranded items for men, women and children of all ages, including winter apparel, baby clothes, and powder baby formula, are being collected. Items can be dropped off in donation bins outside of the House Chamber at the Indiana Statehouse, or at the South Bend National Guard Armory located at 1901 Kemble Ave.