CLARKSTON, Ga. — America's longest war is officially over, with 124,000 people evacuated out of Kabul, Afghanistan.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp previously issued a statement welcoming refugees from the country, and many organizations across metro Atlanta are already dedicated to helping refugees throughout the resettlement process.
Nonprofit Just Bakery is one of those that works to help refugees build a new life. Sisto Kalala, a native of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, has worked with the organization for four years.
"It's a good start so you don't only have to work in a warehouse," Kalala said of the opportunity. "You can be here baking and make other people smile."
Kalala had no prior experience with baking prior to joining Just Bakery, but that didn't matter to Leah Lonsbury who created the nonprofit in 2017. Kalala and others are able to learn skills on the job as well as become professionally certified and earn a living wage.
It was a solution Lonsbury saw was needed after learning about the lack of job options for refugees.
"It's nearly impossible to get any kind of job that pays a living wage if you don't have a high school diploma or if your credentials from another country aren't recognized, and you have to start over here," Lonsbury said.
For Kalala, the work comes full circle when he gets to bake then meet community members while selling at farmer's markets like the one in Oakhurst.
"When you stay here for like eight hours baking, and you go to sell and people love your stuff, and they appreciate what you're doing, we appreciate too what they doing to us," he explained. "We help each other."
Given the situation in Afghanistan, Lonsbury anticipates more help will be needed in the months ahead.
"They are amazingly resilient, hardworking, funny bright individuals who are teaching us every day.... about how we move forward with life," Lonsbury said of the Just Bakery team.
"As our Afghan sisters and brothers are coming to the U.S.," she added, "We fully expect to have another wave of individuals who are looking for this kind of opportunity."
Just Bakery does not have a retail location so they depend on doorstep deliveries, pop up events, neighborhood pick-ups and various farmer's markets to sell their baked goods. Lonsbury said there are plans in the works for a food truck which she anticipates will be up and running later this fall.
To learn more or support the nonprofit's work, visit here.