I developed a bond with one of the Afghans. Nadim was a scientist in Herat, Afghanistan. His life was suddenly in danger, so he left his city the next night with his wife and four children. They endured the typical hardships of a refugee family and arrived at Oinofyta, where they stayed for over a year. They now live in Germany where they are safe. Nadim has been a good friend to me and has given me wise counsel on multiple occasions. And I have done the same for him. He calls me his American mother. We talk on Facetime every few months. He speaks fluent German now, and I tell him we need to talk more often because he will lose his English otherwise. He speaks Farsi at home and German in his community. He speaks English with me.
I participate in a Zoom meeting on current events on Wednesday afternoons. Everyone at the meeting lives - or has lived - at the Voyager RV Resort in Tucson, where we spend our winters. Right now we're in Arizona, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New York and Washington, but most of us will be back in Arizona within a month or so.
Back in August, when the Taliban swept through Afghanistan and the US withdrew in haste, the current events group had its discussion. I told the group about my friend Nadim, and I asked if they would be interested in having him join us for one meeting, so they could ask questions. It would be noon in Arizona and 9 pm in his German village. They were interested. So I asked Nadim if he'd be willing to do that. He said, "Yes, and I will ask my sister also. She is a Ph.D. scholar in Herat and her speciality is political science and diplomacy." I have learned to trust Nadim, so I said okay. He set up a Facebook group for the three of us.
When I had my first conversation last month with his sister Samira, she was living in Herat. One day she went to the market with her young son and on the way they saw a body hanging from a crane. She sent me a picture. I knew this was happening in Afghanistan, but seeing it in such an immediate way was jarring.
Two nights later Samira told me that she and her family had left Herat in the middle of the night. She'd been an activist and she'd gotten word that the Taliban was searching for her. The family was on the road for several days "in many cars and many buses" and crossed the border into Pakistan. At a hotel that night, they were robbed of all their possessions and their papers. She had made copies of the papers on her phone. She was distraught when she talked to me; she said if she'd known how bad it would be she would have stayed in Afghanistan. Within a couple of days, though, the family arrived in Islamabad and found lodging.
Samira wants to go to Germany or the US to live, where she and her family will be safe.
I spent some time with my friend Mr. Google, looking up the various ways people can be accepted in the United States. Here are the most promising paths for Samira:
- Employment Second Preference (E2): Professionals Holding Advanced Degrees and Persons of Exceptional Ability. Samira has a Ph.D, and years teaching political science and developing women's programs, If she is offered a job by a college or university in the US, the school can sponsor her for a visa. I told Samira about this, and when I woke up the next morning she'd sent me a CV and cover letter that knocked my socks off. Finding the school will be a project.
- Humanitarian Parole You may apply for humanitarian parole if you have a compelling emergency and there is an urgent humanitarian reason or significant public benefit to allowing you to temporarily enter the United States. Anyone can file an application for humanitarian parole. Samira will need a sponsor for this option. You must include a Form I-134, Affidavit of Support, and supporting documentation with each humanitarian parole request. This form serves as evidence of a sponsor who has agreed to provide financial support to the parolee while paroled in the United States. There may be multiple sponsors, the beneficiary may self-sponsor, or an organization may support the parolee by submitting a Form I-134. [U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services]