An Afghan refugee who arrived in Arizona less than two months ago hopes to publish all her journal entries into a book about how she and her family escaped the Taliban.
The refugee, whose name we are not using out of fear of retaliation against her family still in the Middle East, is a mother of eight and escaped with her immediate family over the summer as U.S. troops were withdrawing from her home country.
“It is true that we were rescued from that misery, now I am here, myself, my children, my husband, we have safety, but with my family, when we talk, we are grateful for being here, but deep down, I have a lot of pain and sorrow, for the people, women just like myself, same gender, how difficult it is for them, this I can never forget or ignore, people pleading to leave at the airport. It is very painful for me. I can not forget that,” she said.
The former teacher says her husband helped American soldiers while they were in Afghanistan. She tells us she has taught her eight children their education — two are physicians, one is an engineer, another is a computer scientist. However, when they fled, they had to leave everything behind, including their diplomas.
The family is beginning to settle in Arizona — one is working at a hotel, another at a local McDonalds.
The mother of eight says she only had a pen when she left Afghanistan, and she journaled every second she could on any paper she could find including when her family arrived on American soil. “When we left our home with the family, it became a story for me, how we left, the fear we had,” she stated.
“I only had a pen because I didn’t have anything else, we didn’t have the permission to bring anything else. I didn’t have a paper. I started ripping cardboards and started writing my story and I have my writing here and this will become a book,” she said, “The story of an Afghan refugee, so the world can read and become aware of the experience of the people of Afghanistan.”
The former teacher said she hopes to get a computer to help her with her writing.
Hundreds of refugees have already arrived in Arizona and more could still come. There are a number of organizations that work directly with refugee families.
Dr. Shahrzad Saririan is an associate professor at the University of Arizona College of Medicine as well as the Director of the Wesley Refugee Health Clinic that is treating hundreds of Afghanistan refugees. She works around the clock to help Afghan refugees with healthcare and also find resources to help integrate them into their communities.
“I’m very concerned about them,” said Dr. Saririan, “they arrived in the middle of a pandemic, in a housing crisis, and now with inflation, many of them remain jobless.”
Dr. Saririan hopes that sharing their stories will help raise awareness as these families are moving into our communities.