Refugees from Afghanistan adjust to Tri-State after long journey

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OWENSBORO, Ky. (WEHT) As refugees from Afghanistan continue arriving in the Tri-State, two of them share their stories about what they went through in their home country, and here in the U.S.

More than 140 refugees from Afghanistan have arrived in the Owensboro area as of last week.Some who arrived earlier this week are thankful to be here after what they went through earlier this year.

“The life that we had in Afghanistan in the past 18 years were, we had a great life,” said Khaibar Shafaq, who worked with international and humanitarian groups. He and Zakir Ullah Ahmadzai, who was a contractor, have been in the area the past few weeks. Their lives quickly changed after U.S. forces started their withdraw, and the Taliban took control of the country. It accelerated as Shafaq returned to Afghanistan from Turkey.

“The night that I arrived, the north collapsed, and the second day in the morning, when I was out of my house, trying to go to work, I saw the convoys of the Taliban passing from my street,” Shafaq recalled.

“It was 4:00 AM when I saw the Taliban take the pictures of our city inside the city, and they just had the selfies I saw on Facebook, I cried that time,” recalled Ahmadzai.

Getting out of Afghanistan was not easy as thousands of people rushed to the airport to fly out.

“They were calling Hamid Karzai International Airport at night, 12 o’clock and it’s basically a gate, just one hour before you were running to the gate and you already see 4,000 people at the gate,” said Shafaq.

“Everyone was scared because behind us were the Taliban pushing people and they said, ‘Why you going to the other country? Non muslim country? Why you leave our country?'” added Ahmadzai, recalling questioning some got from Taliban as they waited to leave.

They flew from Afghanistan a few months ago, stopping in other countries before arriving in the U.S., and then arriving Owensboro in mid-November.

“When we arrived here, when we shared our experience with the people that are in these kinds of situations, they say, ‘You guys arrived in the right place’ because it is different there,'” said Shafaq.

But they still wait for their families to make it out, and hope to be with them again in the near future.(Zakir ullah ahmadzai and khaibar shafaq) “My family is trying to move out of Afghanistan,” says Ahmadzai.

“That’s the dream is to be with the family,” added Shafaq.

Both men add others arriving from Afghanistan are starting to,, and want to adjust to life in the U.S.

(This story was originally published on November 29, 2021)

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