By: Amanda Li
BH, a teenager from Kabul, a city in Afghanistan that is currently falling into the hands of the Taliban, is currently living in California as a student and worker. Right now, BH is only 19 years old. His family is still in Kabul, 8,000 miles away from BH, and they are in danger.
“An uncle worked for the Afghan and US militaries, making the whole family suspect.” BH recalls as he remembers the last time he saw them. “Parents, a grandmother, brothers, nephews and an uncle.” BH tells NPR,), “Everyone was pushing each other, and didn’t care about the elderly and the young.” BH explains his situation to the news as he reflects on how he escaped. While walking to the gate, BH was separated from his family and ended up at the gate alone. Soon BH would be on a C-130 aircraft, with many other refugee families, but without his own. After many hours, the plane landed at Doherty, Qatar, where BH finally managed to contact his mother.
Next came the other parts of his flight: Germany, where the refugees slept on cots in a big airplane hangar. Then the Washington Dulles Airport in Virginia, and then to an air force base in New Mexico. BH later found out about Virginia. Virginia has a good education system, which was BH’s goal. So BH flew back to Dulles Airport in Virginia. “He got an apartment and enrolled at Alexandria City High School as a junior. He studied hard and worked, doing odd jobs, not able to socialize much. When a teacher found out he lived alone and was financially strapped, the school staff reached out to Christ Church in Alexandria, a church founded in the 1700s whose parishioners included George Washington. The members have been trying to help new Afghan refugees, thousands of whom have stayed in the Washington area.“
Upon moving to the U.S., BH needed financial help very badly. He goes to school, he goes to work “I mean, he has sent me pictures of a brother who’s been stabbed, And when I see that, I can’t imagine how you go to school the next day and yet he does.” Melanie Gray, a manager of Christ Church in Alexandria, tells NPR.
How Can You Help?
“A bill in Congress called the Afghan Adjustment Act would speed permanent residency for the tens of thousands who were airlifted from Kabul International Airport. It has bipartisan support but it's languishing in Congress. Some Republicans argue the Afghans who arrived here were not carefully vetted, a view dismissed by U.S. officials who point out that dozens of Afghans were not allowed into the U.S. when they lacked documentation or were suspected of crimes” NPR states.. Promoting and supporting the passing of this bill can greatly aid in helping thousands of Afghan refugees.
Despite all these challenges, BH is actually very lucky on paper. He is just two steps away from becoming a permanent resident. He also has a job. He might not have his family by his side, but he is strong.