Refugee Children Adjusting to Plano, Greater Dallas


Due to the US withdrawing from Afghanistan, and the persecution and poverty occurring world-wide, particularly in China, Latin America, and the Middle East, thousands of refugees have fled to DFW this year. Their children have registered and began school in several of DFW’s school districts, including Plano ISD.

As part of President Biden’s Operations Allies Welcome, nearly 11,210 Afghan refugees were allocated to Texas, around 1,500 of which came to the Dallas area. They face challenges of paying for food, housing, and transportation, on top of getting their children enrolled in school and paying for their supplies.

“We have case workers trying to get children enrolled as soon as possible, but sometimes it takes a while depending on documents,” said Saubia Syeda, volunteering manager at DFW Refugee Outreach Services. “For supplies, we have backpack supply drives, where fundraising volunteers set up goals of giving 50 supplied backpacks and then distribute them.”

Besides getting enrolled and having supplies, refugee children face language barriers with minimal support. Syeda and her colleagues have developed tutoring programs to help these children succeed in school.

“We have set up Beginner and Advanced ESL, in native Afghan languages like Pashto and Farsi,” said Saubia, “We also have computer skills and sewing classes for older girls and women so they can help provide for their families.”

Since many refugee families have relocated to Plano, especially East Plano, numerous volunteers have emerged to help supply food, an increasing problem due to inflation and lack of transportation.

“I and some of my friends have fundraised money to make week-long food supplies for nearby families,” said Samina Ali, delivery and fundraising coordinator for DFW Refugee Services. “It feels good to help these families, especially since they are coming from such a traumatic past.”

On top of dealing with school enrollment, paying for supplies, and overcoming language barriers in class, refugee students must also overcome past trauma and assimilate into a completely different society and culture.

“I know English pretty fluently, so language and classes aren’t really a problem for me,” said Amina Alimu, Jasper sophomore and Uyghur refugee. “The main issue is assimilating to a completely different environment, and understanding that some of my family are still in internment camps in China.”