Former Afghan interpreter thankful for family’s new life in Charlotte

CHARLOTTE — A family who escaped Afghanistan with only the clothes on their backs are now creating a new life in Charlotte.

At first glance, Muzhgan looks like any other kindergartner walking down the hallway of her school -- but her story is so much more.

Everything about this experience is new for Muzhgan, and for her family. Channel 9 first introduced you to them last month when the family arrived in Charlotte from Afghanistan.

“I was in Afghanistan. I was working over there to help the people work with the U.S. military,” said Muzhgan’s father. Channel 9 is calling him “Johnny.” We can’t use his real name because he worked as a combat interpreter alongside U.S. troops.

When the Taliban took over his country in August, Johnny, his wife and their three daughters fled. He said his children were tear-gassed at the airport during their escape.

“We left everything behind, there wasn’t time,” he told Channel 9. “The Taliban, day by day, were getting close to the cities and towns.”

Johnny’s family is among hundreds now relocated in the Charlotte area. With help from the government and local organizations, they have a home and his daughters are in school.

“They’re trying to learn the language, they like it,” Johnny said. “Early in the morning they wake up and get ready for the school.”

Females in Afghanistan aren’t allowed access to education, which makes the girls’ journey all the more powerful.

Principal Jennifer Parker told Channel 9 that each day is an opportunity to show Johnny’s girls the endless possibilities of what their lives can be.

“To see them walk in with the smile they do on a daily basis … it has been rewarding to see how much growth the girls have gone through socially, as well as academically,” Parker said.

Johnny is mirroring that same kindness, packing basic supplies for other Afghan families arriving in the Queen City. He’s also working with the Independence Fund — which helped him escape — to bring the rest of his family to America.

Johnny told Channel 9 they are in danger under the Taliban’s rule.

“I left my family behind,” he said. “I’m worried about them and also the interpreters that worked for the U.S. military — they’re left behind.”

Johnny said he takes nothing for granted; least of all his girls, who are happy, safe and free.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools have seen an increase in Afghan students enrolling. The International Center told Channel 9 it has supported seven families and 20 students with enrollment in the past week.

CMS also said those families risked their lives to support U.S. efforts in Afghanistan and they’ll do everything they can to help them transition to Charlotte.

(WATCH BELOW: Channel 9 speaks with Afghan interpreter who served with U.S. troops during combat)

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