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Afghan refugee starting new life thanks Americans for having 'heart of gold'

An Afghan refugee in Indiana is putting a face to the expansive resettlement process that has been going on for months, taking the time this week to explain why she's thankful.

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An Afghan refugee in Indiana is putting a face to the expansive resettlement process that has been going on for months, taking the time this week to explain why she's thankful.

Officials gave an update Tuesday on their efforts to resettle thousands of Afghan refugees. More than 7,000 have been brought through Camp Atterbury, among the thousands across the country who were brought to the U.S. following the military withdrawal in Afghanistan.

National Guard officials said 4,100 refugees remain at Camp Atterbury. The rest have moved to a permanent living situation with the help of outside organizations.

One evacuee spoke about her journey these past few months and why she's excited to stay in Indiana.

Background: Indiana kicking off statewide donation drive for Afghan refugees at Camp Atterbury

"I'm very excited to start my new life in Indiana, and where I hope to continue my (studies at) Bloomington University. I have a message to the people of the United States, and I want to say that, '(the) people of the United States (have) a heart of gold,'" Nahid Sharifi said.

Sharifi's husband worked for the U.S. government and left Afghanistan last year.

Right now, the new goal is for all remaining refugees to receive resettlement assignments by the end of the year, although Aaron Batt, Department of Homeland Security coordinator for Operation Allies Welcome, said the holiday season and winter weather events could push the timeframe back to early 2022.

Camp Atterbury, about 25 miles south of Indianapolis, is one of eight sites in the U.S. that the Department of Defense is using for Afghan special immigrant visa applicants, their families, and other Afghan personnel.

Thousands of Afghan refugees are awaiting resettlement at Camp Atterbury

So far, about 250 Afghans have resettled in Indiana, Batt said. Indiana was previously projected to take 490, but officials said Tuesday that the state has since committed to accepting 719 refugees. They could be processed at any of the eight temporary housing sites.