In 2017, I resettled from Kabul to Northern Virginia with a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV). One year later, I joined LSSNCA. Two years ago, was one of the worst days of my life.
Having been born in Afghanistan in 1987, my family and I saw a lot of change and conflict. I served for more than 10 years as an interpreter and in other various roles with the U.S. Army and Department of Defense, and I saw a lot of chaos and destruction.
But, in August 2021, I had to take time to catch my breath. LSSNCA, like other refugee welcome agencies, had been prepping for the anticipated arrival of Afghans following the U.S. withdrawal from the country. I was serving as the director of our Woodbridge office, which would become our second busiest location behind Fairfax. We would welcome thousands of Afghans over the next few months. At that time though, like so many others, I was shocked by the speed of the Taliban and the sheer numbers of people attempting to evacuate.
On August 15, my sister, a human rights attorney and government official, was among those crowds. My colleagues' families were among those crowds, and many of my current teammates were among those crowds too. My three other sisters and their families, unfortunately, had no way to leave.
Here, we were on the frontlines, welcoming those who escaped to our growing Afghan community. My colleagues and I were arranging housing and hot meals for new neighbors, while also WhatsApping family back home to make sure they were in a safe location and eating too. Along with many of my friends and colleagues, I needed a moment. I took some time off to recalibrate, and thankfully welcome my sister to Virginia and help her get settled.
Then, it was back to work. I am proud of all of my colleagues, persevering and helping create new networks and communities for more than 4,600 Afghans since that summer. Like Hasib Satary, who shares his story below, I am proud to have many Afghans who fled our home country that summer as my colleagues, alongside others, who like me, were able to leave before the demise.
Two years later there are still tens of thousands of Afghans seeking resettlement, and those in the U.S. are eager to see the passage of the Afghan Adjustment Act so they can access legal permanent residency in their new home. We must continue supporting their calls and continue welcoming them with doors wide open. We must also continue uplifting their stories as the urgency has not passed.
We hope you will continue joining us in this work.