After months on military bases, families airlifted from Afghanistan are finally being settled into new homes across the country. One such family in Hayward tells their story.
It’s well known that Northern California has a disproportionately large Afghan population, with the East Bay a preferred destination for many families and refugees that had to leave that nation. The U.S withdrawal from Afghanistan, and subsequent takeover by the Taliban, sent droves more such families into existing Afghan enclaves here in America. One of these is in Hayward, where KTVU spoke to a resettled Afghan family about what they went through, and the new life they’re beginning.
These aren’t families in the nuclear family sense, they’re more collections of ‘whoever could make the flights.’ As such, these families are now same-house combinations of cousins, uncles, nieces and nephews, many still possessing only what they could drag out of Afghanistan in their two hands.
"We have only these clothes," refugee Sarah Fazili told KTVU.
Fazili and her group of relatives bailed from their home under Taliban gunfire, leaving behind a wealth of possessions, and their lives. They were, however, fortunate enough to make a flight.
But their encounter entailed, as KTVU puts it, “sleeping on the road at the Kabul airport for three days until a plane could airlift them out; and spending nearly two months at the Fort Bliss, Texas, military base where they said scorpions crawled on them as they tried to sleep uncomfortably on cots.”
They weren’t just crawled upon by scorpions, they apparently also ate the exact same meal of some meatball dish with soggy bread for 40 days in a row. The refugees did at least have volleyball courts for recreation, and most importantly, wi-fi access and smartphone chargers to communicate with loved ones and the outside world.
The family is now in a free one-month house rental provided by Airbnb in Hayward. They and a few dozen other families are getting help from the Afghan Coalition in Fremont, which helps with green cards, finding work, and acquiring U.S. citizenship. None of these are easy to get, but the refugees live with less general anxiety because, as another Afghan woman tells KTVU, they’re not "constantly hearing bombs and shooting.”
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