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August 2023

A Message from Hameed Girowal,

Executive Director, Refugee and Immigrant Services

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. 

Featured Story

Marking the second anniversary of the fall of Kabul, we’re proud to share Hasib Satary’s story. Hasib, a former LSSNCA program participant, is now our director of employment serivces in Virginia. We hope his story resonates with you as it represents scores of Afghans across the U.S. who have made America their new home after supporting our efforts in Afghanistan for most of their lives. For many, like Hasib, the story starts decades before August 15, 2021.

A Snapshot (Read Hasib's full story.)

I was only 17 and seeing so much. I was translating for generals, I was going all over the country, experiencing attacks, and seeing losses left and right. It was as if I was training to be a combatant.

Around 2006 the U.S. announced the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program. My general immediately wrote me a letter of support, and I was so happy, I ran back home and told my family, but they all started crying. They did not want me to leave so I decided not to apply for the SIV. I saw most of my friends going to the U.S. and it was difficult for me. 

In 2008, I was with the Marines, and saw a job opening at the U.S. Embassy for a regional security officer. ... This job with the State Department opened a new world to me – I used a computer and email for the first time (I still have that email) and traveled to the U.S. several times. But I had to stay close to my parents. When I got married in 2012 and we had our three boys – to my parents’ delight - I was even more tied to Afghanistan because my mom and sisters were so attached, and my mom always said, “don’t take away my grandchildren.” She held to this even after I thwarted an embassy attack in 2012, and in 2014 when I really started attracting Taliban threats as I became more well known due to my work. Her conviction made it more difficult to even entertain the idea of applying for SIV.


Fast forward to 2021, I did not know what would happen in Afghanistan. My American colleague kept telling me to leave, and as things got worse, I knew I had to. All the regions were falling to the Taliban, and I could tell that Kabul would be next.


On August 15, the big cities were lost to the Taliban. I had to go to the embassy to destroy files and devices before Kabul fell. ... I called my wife, who was pregnant with our fourth child, and told her to pack some things. She asked where to go, and I said, “I don’t know.”

I had dreams of making my country better for my kids, for my kids to grow up with their aunties and grandparents, but everything changed. I made the decision to leave because I did not want to die and leave my kids without a dad. 

Read Hasib's Story

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Seeking Translators

We're always in seeking translators to support in a variety of ways, like for legal clinics, virtual workshops, and interview practice. Our current greatest language needs are Creole, Dari, and Ukrainian.

To learn more, click below or email [email protected].

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A Call for Mentors

We’re looking for people interested in guiding families and youth as they adjust to life here in the U.S. This can include how to access grocery stores and transportation, English conversational skills, ESL, college prep, assisting with education and employment opportunities, and more. To learn more about mentoring through one of our many programs, please email the engagement team!

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If you'd like to donate a digital Uber or Lyft gift card to allow program participants to get to doctors appointments, job interviews, school registration, and more, please email it to [email protected] or mail cards to our D.C. office, attention Development.

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