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Massachusetts students fix car for resettled Afghan man who aided US forces

After helping United States forces during the war in Afghanistan, after coming to the U.S. as a refugee on a military transport plane and after finally resettling in Massachusetts, one man, whose identity and privacy is being protected, needed something simple: a working car.

The man needed the car both to get to work and to transport a young child. Since beginning his new life in Massachusetts, he had been getting to his night-shift job by using rideshare services, the cost of which was unsustainable.

So, multiple high school students and a local non-profit organization got to work to try to meet his basic need. Second Chance Cars in Concord donated a 2006 Honda Accord to the man, and four students at Northeast Metropolitan Regional Vocational High School in Wakefield set out to fix the vehicle so it would be in driving shape, according to Superintendent David DiBarri.

And they were successful. The students, who are enrolled in the school’s Automotive Technology program, fixed the car’s front bumper cover, repaired the rear bumper reinforcement, made plastic repairs to a rocker panel cover and refinished the trunk lid using the skills they learned at their vocational high school.

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Now, after being presented the newly refurbished car, the man is able to drive himself to work, save money and pick up overtime at his job to increase his family’s income, the superintendent noted.

Among the students who did the most work on the car are juniors Emilio Alfaro of Revere and Antonio Hernandez of Chelsea, as well as sophomores Zayleah Carmenatty and Isabel Archilla of Chelsea. Metro Tech instructors MacGregor, Dan Pero and Sal LaFauci oversaw the work, according to the statement.

The Accord was the fourth vehicle the Metro Tech students have refurbished in collaboration with Second Chance Cars, an organization that provides newly repaired and affordable used cars to low-income veterans and others so they can get to work.

MacGregor noted the non-profit has given the school “the wonderful opportunity to enrich the collision repair learning experiences of our students by adding an element of service to the community.”

“I especially love that the students get to participate in the awarding of the vehicle to see first-hand the impact their work and achievements have on the recipients,” the Metro Tech instructor said in a statement. “I believe that the experience provides a greater sense of relevance and purpose to their work, and a stronger connection to their community.”

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The news of the students’ and non-profit’s gift to the man comes more than a year after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and as the global refugee crisis remains in full swing. According to the United Nations, more than 89 million people worldwide were forcibly displaced at the end of 2021 as a result of conflict, events seriously disturbing public order, human rights violations, persecution or violence.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — as well as ongoing conflicts and natural disasters in countries such as Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen — has pushed the number of displaced people around the world to more than 100 million, with many advocates calling for increased support for refugee resettlement in the United States and elsewhere, according to the International Rescue Committee.

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“Welcoming refugees to the U.S. is not only morally right but strategically necessary. Refugee resettlement has strengthened the fabric of US communities for generations, has helped ensure national security, and bolstered foreign policy and global stability,” Hans Van de Weerd, senior vice president of resettlement, asylum and integration at the International Rescue Committee, said in a statement this past fall. “Refugees have been shown to make an outsized contribution to the U.S. economy through their high rate of entrepreneurship, tax payments, and filling essential jobs.”


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As reported by American Military News