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From Afghanistan to Maryland

By Jackie Rieger, IRC casework intern

Mohammad worked for an American military unit in Afghanistan supervising the productivity and safety of 50 electricians. Fearful of a violent backlash for his employment by a U.S. company, Mohammad’s eldest son fled to Germany, and in 2016, Mohammad applied to take his wife, Nazifa, and remaining teenage boys to resettle in the United States.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic brought additional challenges. Their flight was cancelled twice, forcing Mohammed to borrow $8,000 from a friend to purchase airfare so he could leave immediately. Finally, on March 19 the family landed at BWI, exhausted but safe. Maryland was almost entirely shut down at the time, but the IRC ensured the family could secure housing, food resources, English Language classes, medical services and employment.

The family still worries about their debt but they are in a position to rebuild their lives in Maryland without fear of retaliation, and they will all be working soon. Nazifa and their three older sons secured various jobs in sewing, packing fruits and vegetables and fixing refrigerators. Mohammed is still waiting for his social security card, but when it arrives he hopes to get a job working in construction. When asked what motivates him now, Mohammad answered, “To work hard and give my children a better life and good future.”

Nazifa, Mohammad, Suliman (upper row), M. Aslam, M. Ashraf and Sharafullah.

Photo: Mohammad's neighbor