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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Over 30 refugees from Afghanistan were welcomed by Shelby County today.

Many of them helped Americans who were once in their country and now the county is doing what they can to make them comfortable after they have fled violence and oppression in Afghanistan.

Today, Mayor Lee Harris and county commissioners welcomed Basir Akrami and other refugees. They were presented with a welcome bag filled with Memphis related items from local restaurants, the Grizzlies and a $100 gift card to Kroger.

“They are great people. They give us an opportunity to live in this great place,” Akrami said. 

He said his first impression of Memphis has been wonderful.

“As a government, we often have things that are happening behind the scenes. But we need to go beyond that. We need to make sure people feel welcomed in Memphis,” assistant county attorney and policy advisor, Jerri Green said. 

Harris talked about the years Americans were in Afghanistan.

“We had a lot of support along the way. We had folks that provided translation services, we had folks that helped with the spread of democratic values, we had folks that took risks that they did not otherwise have to take.” Harris said.

Akrami is one of those people.

He worked at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul for three and a half years. 

“I was an interpreter, a security guard,” Akrami said.

Now he’s here in Memphis, along with his two young daughters. They’re staying with a host family for the time being. 

Is there anything you want the public to know about what’s going on over there or to understand?

“For two days of the Taliban, I was still in Kabul. The situation is bad. It seemed like no one came out of houses. Shops were closed. Everything was closed. It seemed like a dangerous and scary place,” Akrami said.

Akrami’s extended family is still in Afghanistan. He said he checks on them and their security day-by-day. 

Harris also presented a check for $10,000 on behalf of the county for nonprofit World Relief, a group helping families like Akrami’s.

“Thank you for everything they have done for us.” Akrami said

Officials with World Relief say while Shelby County is only expected to welcome 36 refugees from Afghanistan right now, more could possibly come.