AUSTIN (KXAN) — An Austin church and restaurant are teaming up to help refugees from Afghanistan.
With dozens of families fleeing the country in turmoil, many find themselves in Central Texas, not knowing anyone and not knowing the language, but there is help.
Gateway Church has been helping refugees from around the world find community and resources since 2006.
Alliance Samuragwa reached out to Gateway when he first arrived in Texas. Now he finds himself working with the church and helping refugees with any needs they may have.
“The process to come here from Burundi is not easy,” Alliance said. “When I came here I couldn’t speak English at all and I didn’t know anyone. I know how hard it is. I know how painful it is”
Over the years, Gateway pastor Charles Dishinger has worked with people from many countries. He said the church community can offer a lot.
“We want people no matter what country they are from to feel welcome here,” Dishinger said.
“There is a lot to do in those first few months, to learn how to speak English, how to figure out the transportation system, the medical system, how to get their kids enrolled in school.”
Finding a job can be challenging as well, but the church is partnering with Smokey Mo’s BBQ to give refugees an opportunity to work.
“It wasn’t a question of are we going to do this, it was a question of how can we do this,” said Gini Quiroz with Smokey Mo’s BBQ.
The barbecue chain with multiple locations in Austin is looking to hire refugees needing employment. They are working with the church to make sure applicants have all the documents they need.
“We may think it is easy to get online and apply for a job, but if you don’t have technology or you aren’t speaking the language, that is quite complicated,” Quiroz said.
The church and Smokey Mo’s are planning a job fair in early 2022 and hope to bring on new employees soon after.
The church is also raising funds for Afghan families.
“We know there are way more than 100 refugees coming, but we are trying to gear up to say hey let’s serve 100 refugee families,” Dishinger said.