It’s been almost two years since the U.S. left Afghanistan and one Afghan family living in Chicago has been torn apart, for just as long.
Their two children were left behind as refugees rushed to escape the Taliban. But as CBS 2’s Sabrina Franza reported Friday night, a long-awaited reunion may be on the horizon.
“They’re physically here, but mentally they’re all the time,” the children’s mother said. “They’re with the kids.”
It’s been almost two years since the family has seen their now 20-year-old son and almost 3-year-old daughter. They were separated the day the United states evacuated Afghanistan, far away from their parents and the Kabul airport — in a different province visiting relatives.
Now months later, mom and dad, whose identities we’re keeping hidden for the safety of their children, sat down with CBS 2 over tea. Though an interpreter, they discussed a path beyond that horrible day.
“That was the bad memory. The worst day for me.”
Franza: “We saw the video of the plane taking off people and running after the plane. And it felt heavy from hundreds of thousands of miles away. But being there, what is the thing that sticks the most?”
Children’s father: “The worst is that I’m separated from my kids, from my child — so that always comes to my eyes like we are separated.”
The U.S. State Department started a reunification program.
“It clearly says on the form they will need a passport to travel,” said Jen Durham.
Durham, a volunteer with the organization Refugee Community Connection, has been helping the family apply and settle in Chicago.
“They deserve to live in a safe environment and I wanted to help welcome them to their new home,” Durham said.
The cost is high, about $2,000 per person. She’s raising funds to front the bill beyond the money the family takes home from their jobs in the U.S. There is a GoFundMe page set up to collect donations for the family.
“The Taliban controls everything. They control passports. They control free speech, women’s rights,” Durham said.
Because the cost to remain in Afghanistan is far too great for this family to bear.
“If it’s not possible for them to come here, she wants to; she will go back,” the children’s mother said through an interpreter.