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Tears of Joy: A Family Reunification Story

By Samiullah Sherzad, R&P Case Lead | Family Reuinification Specialist
December 2023

When the Taliban took over Afghanistan, everyone was worried about their future, especially government and International Non-profit Organization workers. People were rushing to the capital city and Kabul International Airport to leave the country as soon as possible. 

Mr. Barakzai, an Opening Doors' Refugee Programs client, was a driver and dispatcher of the Director of the Supreme Court at that time. He was receiving threats from the Taliban and living in fear for his life and his family. Once he realized living in Afghanistan was no longer safe, he joined others and rushed his family to the Kabul International Airport. They spent five days and nights in front of the airport's main gate without admission inside. In the midst of the chaos, his 15-year-old son, Abdul Fahim, got lost in the final attempt to get inside the airport. A massive blast also injured many people and took their lives. 

Remembering in horror, Mr. Barakzai said, "I'll never forget the pain I felt that day when I realized that my son went missing. After many trials, we got access to the airport staff and security to inquire about my missing son but found nothing. We visited various hospitals to look for his dead body. After searching for a few weeks, we lost hope that our son might be alive and returned home heartbroken." 

After three weeks, Mr. Barakzai received a voicemail from his son saying that he was safe and was at a U.S. base in Doha, Qatar. He was so happy with the good news and grateful that his son was alive.  

Following the Taliban's search for government employees, the family moved to another province. They could speak with their son daily while he was already living safely in the U.S. Abdul Fahim applied for Family Reunification. After one year, the State Department approved the case and evacuated the family from Afghanistan to the U.S. base in Doha, Qatar. 

Opening Doors accepted the request to resettle the family even though they had no U.S. ties here in Sacramento. Before their arrival, our case workers had secured and modestly furnished an apartment near the Afghan community. Mr. Barakzai and his family were picked up from the airport and welcomed into their new home. They were thrilled to see the nicely set up apartment and appreciated the newly found safety and security.  

After a two-month release process, with Opening Doors and a foster care attorney's support, Abdul Fahim was reunited with his family after two years in foster care. There were tears, hugs, and joy as the family saw each other for the first time in two years.    

Our caseworkers have provided additional services for the family, including assistance with application for public benefits (Cal Fresh, CalWORKs & Medical) and social security cards; enrollment of the kids in schools; and registering the parents in English as a Second Language classes.  

Now, Mr. Barakzai and his oldest son are employed, and the family has adjusted well to their new community.  

At Opening Doors, we walk alongside families like Mr. Barakzai to support their path to stability, self-sufficiency, and belonging. 

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