by Adrienne Morton //
Abdul* began working for the United States Government in Afghanistan in 2007. Prior to his employment with the US military, he had served as a border soldier in Afghanistan and also spent time working for the United Nations. Abdul had always been a hard worker, and his work ethic was quickly recognized by the United States as he rapidly moved his way up the ladder and ultimately served as Chief of Support for a team of Afghan soldiers working alongside Americans.
Even now with the horrific images the world is seeing out of Afghanistan, he speaks fondly of his former life. “We had a good life back home. My family was in a village while I worked in the country…we felt comfortable there…my family was in a good position.” Having worked for the U.S. Government, Abdul qualified for a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV), which allowed him to enter the U.S. under refugee status, along with his family. The SIV program is designed to protect global citizens who were formerly employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government overseas. Abdul’s family was resettled by World Relief Durham in November 2020.
Abdul was appreciative when asked about his family in Afghanistan, with whom he speaks every day. “They are safe because they are not in Kabul. They don’t go outside very often and are staying at home.” As the only member of his extended family who served with the U.S. Government, he was the sole family member who qualified for SIV status.
He believes his family in Afghanistan is safe – for now. While his extended family is healthy and has food on the table, he acknowledges that their future in Afghanistan is fraught with uncertainty and fear. “Those who worked with the U.S. and Afghan governments are not safe; there is no trust. Everyone is in danger right now…people’s lives are unsafe…every moment is very dangerous.”
Abdul says that all Afghans are sad right now. “We are all thinking about our families back home and how we can support them.” When asked about how the local community can help, his answer was quick and simple – “It’s your kindness.”
Starting again in the U.S. has been hard. “There are new people, it’s a new and different country, sometimes very happy and sometimes very sad. But it is better than Afghanistan. No one wants to leave their country, but we will do our best to have a good life here.”
After being offered several employment opportunities, Abdul opted to work as a cashier at a gas station due to its proximity to his apartment. He’s currently supporting his immediate family of nine in the U.S. and his extended family in Afghanistan through this job, though he aspires to gain employment more like what he had back in Afghanistan. “I had a big position with the U.S. Government and I will do my best to find a better job.”
When asked what he would like others to know about the situation in Afghanistan he replied, “I ask all of the world to help Afghanistan, to understand the situation there, because only Afghan people suffer from everything (happening there). I don’t want this situation to continue.”
*Name changed for confidentiality