Catholic Charities welcomes first Afghan refugee to Mid-Missouri


Catholic Charities of Central and Northern Missouri (CCCNMO) welcomed the first refugee from Afghanistan to Columbia Sept. 26, and the community joined with hearts wide open.

Adel Khaffaji, of the Islamic Center of Central Missouri, delivered a warm meal, and the Catholic Charities Refugee Services team, including newly hired Pashto-speaking staff, were at the Columbia airport to greet the new arrival.

Refugees’ initial and ongoing needs are many: food, clothing, shelter, employment, English language training, and orientation to a new community and culture.

Catholic Charities offers a comprehensive array of services designed to meet the complex needs of refugee clients.

“We are thrilled to be a small part of the national effort to welcome refugees from Afghanistan to their new homes,” said Dan Lester, CCCNMO executive director. “This life-saving work is a continuation of the refugee resettlement that we have been blessed to facilitate for more than 40 years in mid-Missouri, and we are eager to welcome more Afghan neighbors to join the more than 4,000 refugees from around the world that we have resettled.”

As the only designated local resettlement agency in Columbia and Mid-Missouri, Catholic Charities Refugee Services coordinates the arrival and services for all refugees resettled in this region, including Afghan refugees.

CCCNMO has been working since August with its national-level sponsoring agency, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the State Department, on responding to the Afghan evacuation.

All of these refugees, who leave their homes out of legitimate fear of death or serious injury, are thoroughly vetted for security through multiple federal departments, including the U.S. State Department.

Catholic Charities is requesting the entire community to become involved in resettlement.

To facilitate collective efforts, CCCNMO has created a community sponsorship program for organizations in Central Missouri to be matched with Afghan and other refugees coming from other areas of the world.

Community sponsors play an integral role in helping refugees become self-sufficient and get off to a strong start in their new home community.

Donations can be made at:

Catholic Charities’ web page with more information can be found at:

Text “WelcomeMO” to 91999 to support Catholic Charities’ work with Afghan refugees.