'We are really thankful': Family who fled from Afghanistan reflect one year after troops pulled out
TAMPA, Fla. - Monday marks one year since the fall of Kabul when U.S. troops pulled out of Afghanistan and the Taliban took hold of the country. In the weeks after, thousands of refugees fled for their lives to resettle in the US with many landing in Florida.
Just one year ago, Mohammed Reza Atash – a husband and father of two – remembers hunkering down with his family in their home in Afghanistan trapped in what he said seemed like a never-ending nightmare with no way out.
"It was like you were waiting for your death. Every single minute. Every single second," Atash said.
At the time, Atash was working as a visa assistant in the U.S. Embassy and instructed by his supervisor to stay home and wait for further instructions. After two weeks of living in terror, he got a message from his supervisor through What's App to head to the Kabul Airport.
READ: Afghanistan marks 1 year since Taliban seized Kabul as woes mount
He, his wife, and their 1-year-old daughter flew to Qatar, then Germany where they stayed for two weeks before finally landing in New Mexico at a refugee camp. They were eventually connected with Lutheran Services Florida, which helped them find an apartment in Tampa where they've been living for the last six months.
"It's good. It's beautiful. Life is beautiful here especially for our kids future. It's going to be a great opportunity for them. We are really thankful for the United States," Atash said.
In June, Atash started a new job working from home as an administrative assistant for Pfizer and just weeks ago, he and his wife welcomed a baby boy who's officially a natural-born U.S. Citizen.
Atash said he and his family are forever thankful for the organizations and people who helped them get to the US but said the language barrier has been a major hurdle. While he knows English, he said many of the other refugees don't and hopes organizations in the future can do a better job providing translators.
"They have to have a better plan for that. In terms of school enrollment for their kids, applying for benefits like EBT and Medicaid, they don't know how to do it. They need some help, and it should be organized by the refugee organizations in a better way," Atash said.