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Dallas Nonprofit Set To Help Afghan Refugees

by Erin Jones | CBS 11

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - A Dallas nonprofit community health center in preparing to welcome Afghan refugees.

They'll be getting help with their physical and emotional needs from someone they can relate to.

As thousands of Afghan refugees arrive in America, Myo Chit Aye says to an extent, he knows what they're going though.

"When I came here it was very difficult for me," he said. "It's the same thing when they come as the newcomer. It's very difficult."

Aye fled his home country of Burma in 2003 as a religious refugee.

"They destroyed the church and they destroyed all our religion," he said. "We can not freely worship. We can not freely do anything"

His journey took him to Malaysia where he got help from the UN Refugee Agency before eventually arriving in the U.S. in 2010.

Here he's been able to learn five new languages and now works as a translator for Helping Hands Ministry Health.

He's preparing to help Afghan refugees who will be arriving in Dallas' Vickery Meadows neighborhood.

"They're not going to get here overnight," but they will be here soon" HHM Health President and CEO Brian A. Hawkins said. "7% of America's refugees are here in the Vickery Meadows area and we care for a good portion of them here at HHM Health."

It's here where the Afghan refugees will get access to all types of healthcare including family medicine, women's health, dental and behavioral health where they can meet with counselors.

"It's going to be lots of trauma," HHM Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Michael Lyons said. "It's going to be lots of post stress disorder. Being able to have someone who can translate and really make them feel at home is so imperative. Being able to come here, we can truly take care of them, we can talk the language, really care for their needs."

"When the refugees came here, they came with their culture so that's why here," Aye said. "We have to teach. What I learned from my experience, I teach again for them."

Aye said assimilating into a new society is always difficult, but he hopes he can make the transition easier.

"I'm very happy to help each one," he said.

EMERGENCY COMPONENT - LOCAL

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