‘I am safe’: Local Afghan families reflect on life one year after US troop withdrawal

CHARLOTTE — Local Afghan families spoke to Channel 9 one year after the U.S. withdrew all troops from Afghanistan and the Taliban took over the country.

Hundreds of Afghan refugees who used to work for our military escaped to the U.S and have since settled in the Charlotte area. Reporter Gina Esposito spoke with some of those people about how life has been the past year.

Former U.S. interpreter “Johnny” escaped Kabul, Afghanistan with his wife and three daughters.

Johnny isn’t his real name, but he asked Channel 9 to call him that for safety reasons.

“I served for the United States Army for five years. If the Taliban catch(es) me, absolutely, they will not let me out alive,” Johnny said.

Channel 9 first talked to Johnny last year when he arrived in the U.S. Since then, his family has settled into the community.

Johnny credits Charlotte-based nonprofit, The Independence Fund, for helping his family find a home in Waxhaw.

“My children go to school playing with their friends, and watch tv, (and) hang out. This is the life. It is good. Amazing,” Johnny said.

While Johnny says he has a lot to smile about, he said his heart still aches for family members that are still trapped in the Taliban-controlled country.

“I worry about their safety. Hopefully one day I can get them out of Afghanistan,” he said.

Johnny is now doing his part to help others by working for the organization that helped integrate him into the community.

Johnny delivers bags of food to hundreds of other Afghan refugees in the Charlotte area as part of The Independence Fund’s “Afghan Allies” program.

Khair Mohammed Sultani is one of the people who receives bags of food from The Independence Fund.

“(It’s) very helpful for us, because...food stamp(s) is not enough for us...We have a lot of children. We have three children. So this helps us a lot,” Sultani said.

Ziaulhaq Ghafoori is the program manager for The Independence Fund’s Afghan Allies program, which supports more than 300 people in the Charlotte area.

Ghafoori coordinates the food delivery, transportation, and translation services to help people get important documents like drivers licenses, work permits, and more.

While The Independence Fund is based in Charlotte, it helps people across the country, and thanks to the organization, Johnny says his family now has security they never would have had in Afghanistan.

“Right now, I am safe...This is the biggest change in my life,” he said.

Johnny’s wife will soon give birth to their first American-born child soon,

The Independence Fund also supports combat veterans, their caregivers, families, and allies across the country through various programs.

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