Thousands of Afghan citizens fled the country in the weeks before the Taliban took the capital city of Kabul. Some have come to Connecticut, like A.A., who asked WSHU not to use his full name as he remains worried for family and friends still in Afghanistan.
He spoke from outside a Super 8 motel, where he’s staying with his wife and five children.
He’s from Kandahar. He worked for six years as a translator and a U.S. government contractor in Afghanistan.
“Every day we were going and coming, so there were a lot of dangers,” A.A. said. “There was a suicide attacker, target killings. Some of our staff was killed by the Taliban. I saw the people, they were shouting ‘My friend is killed by the attacker!’ So when we got there, we saw our friend had died. Killed.”
He got an email from the U.S. government in July during the Islamic religious holiday of Eid. It said “leave Kandahar and come to Kabul.”
“The Kabul way was a very dangerous way at the time,” A.A. said. “I saw the road was closed by the Taliban, under the control of Taliban, the flight also was canceled. After that, I put the — you know, turban? I put the hat on my hair and got all the children with me.”
He finally got a plane ticket from Kabul to the U.S. military base at Fort Lee, Virginia.
“Eight days I stayed there. When they processed my immigrant visa, they transferred me here. I told them I like Connecticut, I would like to go there,” A.A. said. “One of my friends has been living here for around two years. He told me that you can come here, I will find you a job, because you have a certificate, you have a degree and you have experience.”
His friend connected him with Immigrant and Refugee Integration Services (IRIS), a New Haven-based organization that’s helped resettle thousands of people, many from Afghanistan, in the past five years. IRIS is helping him find permanent housing, find a job and get his kids enrolled in school.
“When I reached Connecticut, I called my friend, I called my father, I called my mother. So every day they are crying that all the cities, the whole country are under control of the Taliban. So they told me that you can tell the Senator, maybe some big guy in the U.S. government, help us. Don’t leave behind us. So please help us as soon as possible,” A.A. said.
A.A. said he is looking to the future for his family in their new adopted country — the U.S.
“I hope so good now. Because I am here, now I am secure. So now I will make my plan, which kind of job I will do here. And my son, they will learn schools. They will study until the university. My family will be safe here. I will be safe here. I just hope like that. This is also now our country — not only the American country, this is also our land now. So I can do for my country as well as I can. So when I start my work, maybe I will start some company, maybe I will study more in this computer science. So I just hope good. So good.”
He said his biggest concern now is helping his friend, who also worked for the U.S. government, but is still trapped with thousands of other Afghan nationals who were waiting for visas.