Mir Afzal’s Story
By Anita Afzal
Mir Afzal, my father, was a refugee and struggled a lot on his process of coming to United States. In 1989 while war in Afghanistan occurred with Russia, our family back home went through difficult times. We lived in Kabul, Afghanistan, and our family was not safe at all. The Taliban was going door to door killing innocent humans and removing them from their own homes. My father was a doctor working in the most famous hospital in the capital as a radiologist and was making a good amount of money to support us. One day my father came home and told my mother that we are no longer safe because the Taliban was coming after our family because we were Pashtoon, a tribe that was hated mostly because we are known as the real Afghans and we were always targeted. My father immediately moved us to a safer home and had us under protection.
My father left for Iran, which the closest country to Afghanistan that was safe, with police stopping him, being asked nonstop questions, having to show proof of identity, and getting harassed. He told me, “I went through so much you couldn’t imagine. I went to prison for some time for trying to leave the country. I got beaten so much; I got tortured and harassed for about a year.”
But finally, my father made it to America through one of his best friends who also was trying to leave the country. They both struggled together to make it to USA. Finally, my father made it to USA by connections with border patrols and by having a lot of money. He and his best friend named Hassan both came together to Washington D.C with nothing. They had no where to live, they didn’t know English, they had no food or shelter. Mir stated “I never felt so much pain in my life like this before.” He shared how he felt so alone because he knew he was without his family and came to a different country with nothing. Mir and Hassan started off by meeting other Afghans who already lived in the USA and who had been here for years. My father met this one guy named Jalal who helped him find a job at Georgetown as a cook/ dishwasher to earn income to save every penny so he could to bring his family to America.
Mir lived about ten years without his family and didn’t see them or couldn’t really contact them because during the war there was no such thing as calling on a cell phone and Skyping. The technology was very old fashioned back then; all he could do is hope that we were alive and safe where he placed us. My father told me how he ended up saving every penny and ended being room mates with 3 other Iranians who ended up being best friends with him and help him with his struggle living without his family. They lived in an apartment in Alexandria, Virginia, which was very small but got him through his toughest days. I asked him how he overcame his fear and sadness through those ten years without us. He stated, “Honestly it was the hardest time in my life and I honestly felt like I was slowly dying inside.” After years of working at a restaurant he met a Man named Mike who was from Ethiopia and helped him get a job as a taxi driver to earn more money. He told me when he started driving a taxi for Washington Cab, he slowly learned how to speak English within time and he began to earn more money.
It had been years since my father hadn’t heard from us and he could only pray everyday that we were alive and safe. Finally, my father applied for us to come to the USA. After ten years he learned that his family had gotten a house phone and he finally contacted my mother to see how we all are doing. He was able to hear our voices for the first time in a decade and he told my mother a miracle had happened and the paper work was approved and we could all immigrate to the USA. In December my mother received a call from my uncle telling us to pack our bags; we were leaving Afghanistan forever and moving to America. We immediately got excited and packed our bags and left the fear we felt for years. Our lonely days without our father were finally over and we were able to be together again as a family.