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San Juan Unified Hires Team To Support Refugees: 'They Are Mentally Affected'

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The Sacramento area is home to the largest number of Afghan refugees nationwide. That's why the San Juan Unified School District has hired a team to help immigrant students and their families succeed.

Safiullah Jailani immigrated from Afghanistan in 2017 because he was concerned for his family's safety.

"Every day we were waiting for kidnapping and hijacking-bomb blast," he said.

His heart goes out to the thousands of Afghan refugees in the Sacramento area who are waiting for what happens next.

"They are mentally affected," he said.

Jailani said he is thankful his family was able to take advantage of a program in San Juan Unified that welcomes Afghan students and their families.

More than half of the student population there is Afghan.

"We support the students academically, socially, emotionally, and also we support the families," a district worker said.

Through the help of state grants, San Juan offers 22 programs, including Saturday classes which are particularly popular because parents can attend.

There's also a soccer program for students. The goal is to encourage team building and offer friendship and support, according to Sayed Mansoor, who works one-on-one with families.

"We should observe their confidentiality, create trust for the relationship and we should be very positive," Mansoor said.

With this help, Jailani's two younger boys were able to graduate from Starr King Elementary.

"Their GPA increased to over 4.0, that was a big happiness for me," he said.

And his oldest got accepted at UC Berkeley. He is already trying to help connect refugees with San Juan's program. He gets emotional when he thinks about the global crisis and the greater need.

"They are physically also affected by the situation. And emotionally, they need more help," Jailani said.

This year alone, the district has 1,700 Afghan refugees enrolled.

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