ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Over the last year, refugees from Afghanistan had to start over in America after leaving everything behind to escape the Taliban.
Most refugees from Afghanistan had very little notice to make this life-changing decision. After arriving in the Greater Rochester Area with what they were able to pack in bags, they had to find new careers, transportation, and housing while learning to speak English.
“I was really afraid they were going to kill me,” Ahmad Ibrahami said. “That’s why I had to leave the country.”
For years, Ibrahami worked as a translator for the U.S Embassy in Afghanistan. Despite being granted asylum in America with his pregnant wife Shugufa and their two-year-old daughter, he had to leave his mom and siblings behind.
“I couldn’t leave them behind because my mother was sick and they were all living with me,” Ibrahami said. “But when the Taliban announced they have forgiven everyone except interpreters that is when I decided I’m going to leave this country.”
After arriving in the United States, Shugufa gave birth to twins. To support his family, Ahmad used his English skills to work as a case manager for Rochester Refugee Resettlement services. Assisting other Afghans who needed to learn how to drive, find housing, and apply for jobs.
“We have started driving classes for them,” Ahmad continued. “So, they all use to come to our office where we had space and we teach them the DMV manual. I took them to the workplaces where they want to hire people.”
Shugufa is staying positive knowing their children have a brighter future in America.
“I’m thinking positive that they’ll have a good education,” Shugufa said. “And have a good job here and be safe.”
Rochester Refugee Resettlement Services gave the Ibrahamis and many others their opportunity while Keeping Our Promise helped Afghans who fought alongside the American Military. After a year their work is still not done.
“We’ve had other families where there’s been a name reversal,” Ellen Smith, Executive Director of Keeping our Promise, stated. “So, they had their passports, and then their names were reversed when they were in the U.S Military camp. So, all of a sudden when they got to Rochester their records didn’t match and so they’ve been unable to work.”
These local non-profits have been covering up to three months of rent for these Refugees until they find work. This year Keeping our Promise says they’re committed to helping 50 Afghan Families settle around Rochester. While Rochester Refugee Resettlement Services helped 52.