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Afghan refugee families look back on their journey in the United States and offer hope: NPR

Hossein Mahrammi, his wife, Razia Mahrami, and their four sons came to the United States from Kabul in March 2017 on a special immigrant visa or SIV.

Marisa Penarosa


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Marisa Penarosa

Hossein Mahrammi, his wife, Razia Mahrami, and their four sons came to the United States from Kabul in March 2017 on a special immigrant visa or SIV.

Marisa Penarosa

The scene of violence in Afghanistan caused painful memories for US refugee Hossein Maframi and his wife, Radia Maframi. .. The couple are well aware of the difficulty of waiting for thousands of refugees to flee.

“What we see in the news is real to us,” Maframi said, citing the horrifying sights of people desperately trying to leave their hometown and the massive attacks at Kabul Airport. increase.

Rapid Withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan Couples elicit a mixture of emotions such as pain, helplessness, stress and anxiety. They are worried about dying about those trapped in their country and sometimes feel guilty for being safe here in America — Mahrammi often asks himself, “Why am I here?” .. Maharami agrees and nods.

One recent morning, sitting in a sunlit living room, Maframi and Maframi look back on the news from their homeland. The couple and four boys aged 2 to 12 arrived in the Washington, DC area from Kabul in March 2017. The suitcase had few things to bring, such as my beloved hand-woven Afghan rug.

A trained economist, Mahrammi has worked with the US government in Kabul for over a decade to obtain a special immigrant visa. He said he was afraid of the safety of his family, not only because of the work he did, but also because his family was a Hazarashia group, a minority group highly persecuted by the Taliban.

After the last four years in the United States, the family is on track. Maharami, 42, was studying for a business degree at a local university and learned to drive. The boys thrived and the family moved from a small, narrow apartment to a more comfortable place. Mahrammi says it wasn’t easy to start a new life in the United States, but they have embraced the culture and customs of a new country.

Their eldest son, Shahid, is a tall, skinny 17-year-old, smiling and sitting quietly between his parents. He vividly remembers attending school in Kabul, where he says he left behind many friends.

“I think of them, my uncle, my aunt, and my cousin. What about them?” He softly answers his question, “I don’t know.”

Hossein Mahrammi and his wife Razia Mahrami bought these rugs after getting married in 2003. These rugs were hand-woven by Hazaras weavers and put into suitcases from Afghanistan to the United States in 2017.

Marisa Penarosa


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Marisa Penarosa

Hossein Mahrammi and his wife Razia Mahrami bought these rugs after getting married in 2003. These rugs were hand-woven by Hazaras weavers and put into suitcases from Afghanistan to the United States in 2017.

Marisa Penarosa

Afghan family and friends rely on their relatives in the United States to help them escape

President Biden last month Presentation The US-NATO alliance had left Afghanistan by August 31 and withdrew.

“I haven’t slept since the day the Taliban entered Kabul,” Maframi said, adding that he turned to a neurologist for help.While he is speaking, he alternates between holding and caressing his phone to monitor the news Tasbe Or a bead in his hand, “it helps me relax and focus,” he says.

Suddenly his phone beeped, and after glancing at it, Maframi closed his eyes and sighed quietly.It’s big news Explosion at Kabul Airport It killed at least 13 US troops and nearly 200 Afghan civilians.

“We know our family is crouching,” and it gives the couple some relief, he says.

“I’m worried about the thousands of people who have worked hard for a better future over the last two decades,” says 48-year-old Maframi, who has a soft tone. And the undesired situation. ”

NS The Taliban quickly regained control of KabulAnd, in effect, on August 15, when former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country after just a few weeks of fighting, the whole country.

The Taliban protected Osama bin Laden when he was planning a September 11 attack on US soil in 2001. After the terrorist attack, it had dominated Afghanistan since 1996 until the United States invaded the country in search of bin Laden.

Mahrammi and Mahrami say they hope to help Afghan family and friends escape.

“It’s 10:30 am. My brother and dad have already called five times,” says Maframi, who glances at the wall clock. He listened quietly to their hardships, “we have no income or work. Nothing,” his relatives told him. Maframi reassures them that he is trying to give them hope, “I’m still here for you.”

How to improve refugee resettlement processes

NPR First interview Hossein Mahrammi within a week of arriving in 2017.In the next few months, his wife She remembers asking herself and her husband that she questioned their decision to flee their country, “Why did we come here? Life is so difficult.” increase. Razia Mahrami’s English was limited and she missed her family terribly. Money was tight and their future was uncertain.

She says one of their boys had to undergo surgery shortly after they arrived. The couple received an invoice of $ 37,920.00 for a three-day hospital stay. “It was very stressful,” says Mahrammi. “We didn’t have any insurance. It’s very new here because we don’t know the rules.” Finally, the bill was covered by Medicaid.

Hossein Mahrammi had a hard time finding a job and had to be humble after first telling himself that Uber’s driving was under him. But to drive for Uber, he needed a car. He needed a loan to buy a car.

“I was having a hard time,” he says, “no one had enough cash and I didn’t have credit. [history,]”He finally took months to secure a loan with the help of a co-signer who was a friend of Afghanistan with a solid credit history who came to the United States years before Maframi came. “He says.

“The resettlement process may be better,” Mahrammi said. To tell. He added that he was grateful for the federal support his family received for months of rent, the support for children to enter school, and the guidance to obtain a social security card, but his family was sometimes on the road. He says he felt lost.

The U.S. government has contracts with nine people NGO Resettlement of refugees, their mission is narrow. The main focus is on accommodating refugees and enrolling children in school. However, some institutions also provide other assistance such as food and clothing.

Mr. Maframi welcomes financial literacy workshops and states that even classes on American cultural norms will be helpful.

“In Afghanistan, it’s very important not to see someone’s wife or talk to strangers,” Maframi said. “But here, when you enter an elevator, building, or park, you are expected to say” good morning “to strangers, regardless of gender. The little story is part of American culture, not so much in Afghanistan, he says.

Maframi argues that there are no challenges the family has overcome compared to what the Afghan people experience, and he says that the positives, from big to small, are far greater than the challenges. increase.

“I take my kids to school and know they have a world-class education,” Mahrammi feels great. He also states that his family is currently covered by medical insurance. “I don’t have to worry about my wife going out alone,” he says. “From the bottom of my heart, I feel relaxed, blessed and happy.”

Since the Taliban took over, Hossein and Radia say the phone is always beeping in texts and phone calls asking for help from Afghan family and friends.

Marisa Penarosa


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Marisa Penarosa

Since the Taliban took over, Hossein and Radia say the phone is always beeping in texts and phone calls asking for help from Afghan family and friends.

Marisa Penarosa

The family offers some tips for newly arrived refugees

Family-acquired SIV visas automatically turn into green cards, allowing each member of the family to become a legal permanent resident of the United States shortly after arriving in the United States. Your family will be eligible when they celebrate their fifth year of residence in March 2022. Apply for US citizenship. “I’ll apply right away,” says Maframi with a smile.

After years of doing multiple jobs, Mahrammi is now a technical advisor to a local nonprofit organization. Enterprise Development Group, It provides micro loans to low-income earners.

Mahrammi’s children aged 6 to 17 are all in school and excellent – ​​their English is perfect.

Shahid is an up-and-coming junior and says he still doesn’t know what to study at college or which college to attend, but he is convinced that “there are many options here.”

The family has many plans. After graduating from school, her mother dreams of opening an Afghan restaurant, and the couple wants to buy a house. Then there is already a college for boys thinking about scholarships, “There is a very bright future waiting for us,” Mahrammi To tell.

Hearing news of thousands of new refugees arriving in the United States, he and his wife remember the hardships for them, as resettlement in a new country can be painful and even confusing. It is said to stir. It asks you if your decision to leave your country was correct.

They offer some advice to newly arrived refugees.

“Be flexible, open-minded, and take risks,” says Mahrammi. He warns new refugees to lower their expectations, “it doesn’t matter what kind of work you do, just work hard and keep going,” he says. “This is a country of opportunity.”

The couple are helping organize volunteers and donations for thousands of shelters arriving at Dulles International Airport in Virginia.

Afghan refugee families look back on their journey in the United States and offer hope: NPR

Source link Afghan refugee families look back on their journey in the United States and offer hope: NPR

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