'We're here to help you.' What Afghan Americans want refugees fleeing the Taliban to know
Updated 0707 GMT (1507 HKT) September 18, 2021
(CNN)Decades after the last major exodus from Afghanistan, refugees find themselves forced to flee their homeland once again as the US war in Afghanistan ends and the Taliban rise to power.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said this week that the United States will have brought approximately 60,000 Afghans to America the end of the month. Since the Biden administration's withdrawal in August, refugees have started to arrive at military bases and temporary centers in Virginia, Texas, New Jersey, Indiana, New Mexico and Wisconsin.
About 17% of those who have already arrived are US citizens and lawful permanent residents, and they can head to their destinations without first passing through military bases. The rest, however, will go to bases to receive medical screenings -- including Covid-19 vaccinations -- before they're relocated to communities around the country.
Noorullah Delwaria has been in the US since 1969 and recalls when the rest of his family left Afghanistan after the Soviet invasion in 1979.
"It was hard, difficult and emotional when they escaped the war," the 79-year-old told CNN.
At that time, the Afghan migration was considered the largest refugee crisis in the world, as 1.9 million people fled from Afghanistan, escaping Soviet bombs and military occupation.
While there is overwhelming support from Americans and politicians to resettle and welcome incoming refugees, some observers say anti-refugee sentiment and racism have also increased.
Recently, stickers with "Afghan Refugee Hunting Permit" written on them were discovered on campus at the University of Michigan, according to Melissa Overton, deputy chief of police at the University of Michigan Police Department.
US Rep. Tom Tiffany from Wisconsin, tweeted, "Disturbing that 5000 Afghans per day are headed to the US- including Fort McCoy in Wisconsin. Afghanistan is a dangerous country that is home to many dangerous people."
Afghan Americans who have gone through the journey as refugees offered some advice for the new arrivals. Here's what they told CNN.
Take care of your mental health
Rohina Hussain remembers how scared she was when she first arrived to the US as a 5-year-old in 1991 with her family after the Soviet Union's invasion. The entrepreneur recalls being frightened after getting stuck on an escalator in the airport. She had never been on one before. She says that fear was replicated throughout her childhood and teen years as she faced bullying, family financial hardships and depression.
Her father didn't speak English but managed to work multiple minimum wage jobs, including picking up trash from the streets to support a family of eight children, she remembers. When they settled in Virginia, Hussain says she began feeling like a foreigner. She was bullied in school and in her neighborhood.
"I was bullied because I wasn't White...my last name is Hussain," she said, adding that she wore a headscarf after 9/11. She said other students in school wouldn't acknowledge her.
"There was discrimination from the moment I was here...the neighbors didn't care if you're dead or alive, no hello, no care for the baked goods you gave them," Hussain said. "I had dark, deep depression and severe anxiety," which culminated in panic attacks, she said.
Hussain, who is a mother of three children and an entrepreneur, wishes she and her parents had gone to therapy in the years after they arrived because it would have helped her better cope with her trauma.
Intergenerational trauma is a significant issue that faces many Afghan refugees, she said.
"I used to be angry with my parents as a kid because I didn't understand it," the 35-year-old said. "You're coming into a new country and new world. Kids need advice and guidance from a professional to understand how they feel."
Going to the mosque and enrolling in art classes as a child gave her some peace, and it's something she believes younger Afghan refugees should try, as well as professional therapy.
"That peace for them can be sports, arts, anything they might like to get involved in," Hussain said. "Those things to make good friends, to do what they truly love."
Hussain wants Afghan refugees to remember that they are good people with good in