Afghan refugees to arrive in Norfolk thanks to Orphan Grain Train

NORFOLK -- The word 'orphan' comes from the meaning 'without resources.' It seems fitting, now that the Orphan Grain Train is working to help two families who are without resources -- or a safe country.

"We spent 20 years trying to make their government our government, longer than that trying to bomb them and shoot them. What would happen if we tried to help them?" asked Rev. Ray Wilke of the Orphan Grain Train in Norfolk. He's preparing to accept eleven Christians from Afghanistan, including a doctor and ambassador.

"What the grain train is planning is to supply everything they need for a safe landing -- and accommodation for acculturation," Wilke, president and CEO said. The non-profit's leader is looking for donations to house and feed the refugee families as they settle in.

"As much as we need to for as long as we need to [...] I was a missionary in the Philippines and I know how difficult it is to land in one culture in a moment."

It's unknown exactly when the refugees will be in Nebraska, but it's supposed to be a matter of days -- not weeks. When the refugees do arrive, Gov. Pete Ricketts has said he wants to be there to welcome them. From there, Norfolk's Mayor Josh Moenning will welcome them into town.

"Where help is needed we're there to offer it," Moenning said. "I think the community can play a role and I know we will." He said he's hoping the city will step up and celebrate the diversity. "Exposures to cultures is always a good thing," he said.

Most of the soon-to-be-Norfolkans are in Turkey or Qatar, but one is still stuck in Afghanistan.

 "If your neighbor's hungry, feed them and we have the privilege of doing that," Wilke said.

The grain train was going to house them in the Andrews Building, but they're now looking for different apartments and possible jobs. President Joe Biden has pledged to evacuate 50,000-65,000 Afghan allies

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