“This is our country”: Family from Afghanistan finds home in US

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We elected to change Abida’s name and slightly alter identifying details from her life in Afghanistan in order to protect family members that are still in the country.

When Abida* was in her home country of Afghanistan, she rose at 5 a.m. to go to work under cover of darkness. She worked as a translator for the US Embassy in Kabul, but this connection with the United States put her in a lot of danger. The Taliban were in Kabul and threatened to kill anyone who worked for either the Afghan or the US governments.

“It was dangerous,” Abida said, “you never know who is Taliban and who isn’t.”

Abida has worked to support her family since she was 14 years old. She worked at the Embassy for 13 years. It was a good job and was necessary to help her support her family.

Starting in 2005, when the Taliban came back into Kabul, Afghanistan became dangerous for Abida. She kept her job at the Embassy a secret from most people in order to stay safe from the Taliban. However, although she had training on how to stay safe in her job, some members of the community still knew she worked at the Embassy and that put her and her family in danger.

Eventually Abida and her family had to flee their home country for their own safety. They arrived in Spokane in late 2016.

“I will never forget my first day in Spokane,” Abida said, “It was very very hard.”

When she first arrived in the Spokane airport, she was picked up by World Relief staff. Since then, volunteers and friends from World Relief have come alongside her to help her and her family transition to America. They showed them anything from how to drive, to how to eat and use the bath.

“Without World Relief it would be very hard, not only for me, but for everyone who is a refugee” Abida said.

Abida and her family faced many difficulties in their transition to Spokane. Abida worked at Global Neighborhood Thrift for a while, but when she became pregnant with twins, she had to stop working. Around the same time, her husband tore his ACL and the doctors told him he should not be working a full-time job.

“For a little while we were jobless,” Abida explained, “That was very hard. But World Relief helped us with our rent.”

Since then, Abida’s husband had been able to find a job that could support his growing family.

Abida and her husband currently live in a two bedroom apartment with their five children. They have a ten year old daughter, seven year old son, four year old daughter, and six month old twins. While Abida used to fear for the safety of her children, she no longer has to worry about that.

“I’m happy they have a good future,” Abida said. “In Afghanistan we had schools, but it is better here. They will have a good future.”

At first it was very hard for Abida’s kids to transition into American schools.

“They had a very hard time at the start. They cried. My daughter had language problem so it was very hard. But now they are happy at school.”

It is also hard for Abida to be away from her family back in Afghanistan. But even through the difficulties, Abida is thankful to be here.

“We feel this is our country,” Abida said. “In other countries, like Pakistan or Iran, it is not like this. They have their own schools for refugees. But this is our country. Our kids study with American kids. We go everywhere and we are not like refugees.”

We were able to support Abida and her family because of generous donors and volunteers. If you would like to help make a difference in refugees lives, you can become a monthly donor, or sign up to volunteer.

Kara Need, World Relief Spokane’s Digital Communications Intern, wrote this story.

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