DC restaurants owned by Afghan immigrants help refugees fleeing the Taliban

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A family of Afghan immigrants who had to flee their homeland during the Soviet invasion in the 1980s is collecting donations to help local Afghan refugees get back on their feet after fleeing the Taliban. And they turn to their Washington DC restaurants for that.

Fatima Popal, whose family owns Lapis, Berliner and Lutece, told FOX Business that her family knew all too well what it was like in their shoes.

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“We are also refugees from another wartime period in Afghanistan,” Popal told FOX Business. “Unfortunately, Afghanistan has been at war for over 40 years, never seen a day of peace.”

Lapis, an Afghan bistro in Washington, DC, raises funds for local Afghan refugees. (FOX Business’ Audrey Conklin)

Regarding direct aid to these people in Afghanistan, Popal said their hands were “tied”.

So her family considered how they could channel their grief and emotions “through a fundraising campaign to at least help the Afghans who settle here”.

It started with a simple Instagram post, she said.

Popal stated that they had decided to use their restaurant’s social media pages to promote the fundraiser and set two of their locations as drop-off points.

But the community quickly got wind and donations poured in.

Restaurant with donations for Afghans

Family-run restaurants in Washington, DC raise funds for Afghan refugees. (Fatima Popal)

“We woke up overnight and it was shared by some people and the response was just amazing,” she said.

Within 24 hours, they were able to fill two to three truckloads with donations of clothing, hygiene articles, furniture and school supplies, including children’s toys.

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“Both restaurants were so full of donations that I had to get trucks and mobilize them or I would just have to cut them off on the first day,” she said.

The donations were then forwarded to a number of resettlement organizations and charities such as the International Rescue Committee and Homes not Borders.

Family-run restaurants in Washington, DC raise funds for Afghan refugees. (Fatima Popal)

However, due to lack of space, they no longer had to accept physical donations and are now asking for smaller items like gift cards that can be used to pay for things like plane tickets and even temporary accommodation.

It enables them to help families directly.

In fact, with donations, Popal was able to buy tickets for six Afghan family members who were stuck at Washington Dulles International Airport and had to get to Arizona, she said.

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If “you are Afghan, the blood, our bloodline and just the love for our country … is so strong that it hurts us even from afar,” said Popal. “And seeing what happens every day is really difficult for all of us.”

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