This article appeared in the September 10, 2021 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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The battle to get a ‘sweet father’ and his family out of Afghanistan

Handout photo
Mohammad at a recent birthday party with his family. Efforts to rescue him and his family from the Taliban continue.
Linda Feldmann
Washington Bureau Chief

“If you’re ever in my home for dinner, you’ll see the faces of Afghans hanging on the dining room wall,” writes my reporter friend Jessica Stone in an email. “These are pictures I was able to take only because Mohammad made sure I had safe transport to the northern province of Bamiyan for a story.”

“Mohammad” is a pseudonym. Jessica is protecting his identity, because she’s fighting to get him and his family out of Afghanistan. He had worked for her as a “fixer” back in 2009, and they’ve been friends ever since.

Mohammad is also one of the many Afghans who worked for the American-led coalition, and struggled to get the Special Immigrant Visa, or SIV, needed to leave.

“I don’t think I understood how much his life was constantly under threat until I read the letters of support for his SIV,” Jessica writes, noting that he’s an ethnic minority.

In late August, Mohammad and his family came achingly close to getting out. With the promise of a Canadian visa, they made their way to Kabul’s airport, and spent a day and a night outside the gate before the Taliban pushed them away.

“Hours later the suicide bombs went off near that same gate, and what seemed possible – getting him through that gate before the Aug. 31 withdrawal deadline – just melted away.”

Jessica is still working her contacts, praying, and supporting fundraising through Transit Initiatives, which has partnered with Vietnam veterans to help evacuate Afghans.

“This mild-mannered, sweet father of three is actually asking if I’m getting enough sleep, because he hears from me in the middle of the night here in the U.S.,” she writes.

Twenty years after 9/11, the U.S. military is out of Afghanistan. But the battle to help those left behind is far from over. 

This article appeared in the September 10, 2021 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 09/10 edition
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