The New York Times does story on people who worked for them in Kabul a year later adjusting to life in America….
More than 120 people — present and former employees of The Times’s Kabul bureau over the 20 years of the American occupation, and their families — made the same choice when the Taliban took over last August, rushing to the airport to flee. Once there, Taliban fighters beat them with rifle butts and clubs, as the men in the group formed a circle to protect the women and children. Marwa and the others narrowly made it out of the country days later.
Throughout it all, Marwa wore her new dress, which ended up in tatters.
“I still have that dress. I will never throw that away,” she recalled from her new home in Houston. “The only thing that I carried with me is my backpack, for my entire life, only one backpack. I just left everything,” she said, including the stethoscope her father had bought her to encourage her to become a doctor.
A year after the fall of Kabul, the speed that their city, their country and their lives collapsed stuns even the most fortunate Afghans. Marwa, 22, was part of a group The Times evacuated to Doha, Qatar, and then to Mexico City, where the Mexican government provided refuge for hundreds of fleeing journalists and aid workers. Finally, the group was accepted into the United Statesand went to Texas, joining one of the biggest waves of immigration to America since the Vietnam War….
Adjusting to life as a refugee has meant starting over in a new language that has rendered many prior skills — and often, degrees — almost moot. It has also been a great equalizer, leveling hierarchies that once divided the group between the Afghan journalists and the drivers, gardeners and cooks who worked alongside them. And it has profoundly changed the roles of men and women.
One of the greatest legacies of the American occupation of Afghanistan was expanded access to education for women and girls. Those gains were hard fought, especially as some family members resisted and the war interrupted their studies. But Marwa, her sisters and countless other Afghan women became or trained to be doctors, lawyers, ministers and journalists. The sudden evacuation upended it all.
Initially, the women in our group were almost invisible. Fatima Faizi, a journalist who had long refused to accept Afghan societal norms, was a notable exception. But many of the other women barely left their hotel rooms in Mexico City and Houston, while the men assembled for meetings about next steps. Few of the women spoke English. When I went along to help the group find apartments in Houston after they were initially rejected (for lack of three months of pay stubs), only the men came along.
“We were just in the hotel, sitting in rooms. We didn’t do anything without my brother, like in Afghanistan,” said Mursal Rahim, Marwa’s sister, who had fought many obstacles to complete law school in Kabul. “It took time to say, ‘OK, I will do this. I will do this, not my brother.’ Day by day, I realized I have the freedom here.”….
image….Credit…Meridith Kohut for The New York Times