Local Catholic Charities Worker Talks About Her Experience Helping Afghan Refugees

Thursday, September 2nd 2021, 5:21 pm
By: Erika Lee


While Afghan refugees are currently in need of assistance, many are doing their part either by donating or helping on the frontlines.

News 9 spoke with an Oklahoma City woman who recently went to Virginia and New Jersey to help refugees relocate.

Genevieve Schmitt, assistant director of refugee settlement at Catholic Charities, recently spent two weeks using her expertise to help with the refugee reunification effort on two military bases.

She said she was glad she could help during such a devastating situation.

"The situation changed so rapidly in Afghanistan with the fall of Kabul city," Schmitt said. "Our main concern was safety."

Despite those concerns, Schmitt said the team mentality and support at the camp made the situation better. She recalled a specific heartwarming moment. 

"We had this soldier, sitting on the ground, and he was surrounded with a group of young children and he was teaching them basics of English; it was just a really sweet moment," she said.

Everyone on base had a different but equally important role. Schmitt's role included processing data, adding biographical information about the refugees on different cases, and submitting their cases to the government.

The state of Oklahoma is currently waiting for approval to accept refugees.

She said they have not heard when exactly that will be or how many the state will take specifically. 

"We want to make sure we have enough resources to be able to not just survive and be in survival mode but to thrive in the community and feel comfortable," Schmitt said. "Feel ready and willing to work and be available for their kids and we want to get these partnerships ready to go before they arrive."

If you want to donate money to help the refugees, please email give@ccaokc.org.

As for furniture and supplies, Catholic Charities will have a better idea of what specific supplies they need when refugees are approved to come to Oklahoma.