About 40 refugees from Afghanistan have recently been resettled in Bowling Green, with a total of 200 expected to arrive in southern Kentucky over the next few months.
Western Kentucky University Religion Professor Sophia Arjana and other faculty members launched a project to fill welcome bags with essential and comforting items for the new arrivals.
Arjana said she’s delighted with the outpouring of participation in the project and thinks it symbolizes the welcoming nature of the WKU community.
“It’s a university that serves the public. These people that are coming are going to be part of the community that we live in. And WKU is a central part of the community here. You know, it’s kind of the cornerstone of Bowling Green. And so, I think, that’s part of the reason it’s important.”
The project already has more than 150 welcome bags of supplies including face masks, hand sanitizer, dental hygiene supplies, and WKU gear.
Arjana said some in the community found specialties that will make the refugees feel more at home, such as tea with cardamon and other items that are common in Afghan homes.
“So, there were a couple colleagues who went online or went to a local kind of Middle Eastern markets and purchased 10 prayer carpets,” Arjana said. “Because we really wanted to have a prayer carpet, essentially at least one for each family, but ideally as many as we could get.”
The WKU Muslim Student Association has also been collecting items for the Afghan refugees.