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Refugee kids are heading to Kalamazoo

Rahmat Gul
AP Photo

A few months ago they were fleeing the Taliban in Afghanistan. Now hundreds of refugees are preparing to make new homes in West Michigan.

More than 1,300 are expected to come to the state. About 400 of them are heading to the Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids areas.

The Kalamazoo Public Schools have set up special welcoming centers at Lincoln International and Milwood Middle School to help refugee children from Afghanistan, the Congo, and other "conflict zones" get acclimated.

Kalamazoo School Superintendent Rita Raichoudhuri says, "We have a handful of newcomer students enrolled and anticipate a number of additional students to be arriving before the end of the year. We're expecting over a hundred."

Non-profit groups like Immigration Connection, Bethany Christian Services, Samaritas, and other community groups will help them with immigration paperwork as well as find housing.

Raichoudhuri says that although many of the refugee students don't currently speak English, the district is prepared to assist them.

"There are over 60 languages spoken in our district. Our district is uniquely positioned to provide services to our refugee and immigrant families."

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