Afghan evacuees leave Black Mountain after 6 months, move to live with family in Canada

Ezra Maille
Black Mountain News
An Afghan family resettled in Black Mountain six months ago but was recently afforded an opportunity to live with extended family in Canada.

After roughly six months in Black Mountain, a large family of relocated Afghan evacuees decided to move on. 

"They have relatives in Canada," said Judith Whelchel, a rector with St. James Episcopal Church in Black Mountain. "They did a lot of work to get there."

The family originally arrived in Black Mountain in January, fleeing the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. For safety purposes, the names of the family members have been kept private.

Whelchel said the family was processed by the Canadian government through an agency in Buffalo, New York, and were allowed to enter the country to live with extended family residing in Toronto. Whelchel, who helped the family settle in Black Mountain, said a few other smaller families still live in town.

For this particular family, Whelchel said in addition to being in a new country, moving to the small town of Black Mountain after living in the big city of Kabul was a difficult transition. Though the community was supportive, the environment was very different.

"They were really great sports about it," Whelchel said. "They're in Toronto now, and it's sort of a better match for them."

Though the group in Canada are also Afghan, Whelchel said they're more established and familiar with the language, which should make things easier for the Black Mountain family. Additionally, volunteers from Black Mountain have continued to provide support. 

For the first three months, the family lived at Christmount Christian Assembly. Rob Morris, the Christmount executive director, said staff witnessed the normal ups and downs of family life, though challenges such as lack of mobility proved to be difficult for them.

"The primary challenge was probably public transportation," Morris said. "Getting from home base to work."

Nevertheless, Morris said the family was well embraced and welcomed by the Black Mountain community. 

Whelchel said part of the challenge of coming to Black Mountain was that it happened so quickly. She said now, there may be better matching to find evacuees more compatible living arrangements to what they may be used to. 

"They did a really good job trying to make it work," Whelchel said. "When the opportunity came to be with family, I think anyone would've taken that."