For the first time in this whole ordeal since the Afghanistan government collapsed and the Taliban took over, my reader who is trying to get his company’s former employees out of the country has good news.
“I attended Sunday service and my pastor is preaching on prayer,” my reader tells me. “My mind drifted, thinking and praying about the disaster in Afghanistan. I last heard from one of my guys shortly after midnight on the 26th. Later that afternoon, Kabul time, the Abbey Gate was bombed. I couldn’t help but think the worst. I had not heard from some of my guys after that.”
“My phone was silenced at services, but my notifications still popped up: ‘Hello dear sir, now I am at US thank you for your great help and support.’ It was one of the Special Immigration Visa guys on my list! I pumped my fist. Miracles in the midst of disasters. Praise God, we needed that.”
My reader continued, “he was not at the gate on the 26th – but joined the mad crush on the 27th to get out. He waited forever with his wife and three young children and finally got through after Marine guards confirmed the validity of his SIV paperwork. They were flown to Qatar, Spain, D.C, and now reside temporarily at a refugee camp in Virginia at Camp Pickett.”
By September 9, the U.S. evacuation effort had brought about 5,000 Afghans to Camp Pickett Army Base in central Virginia; the base is preparing to host as many as 10,000 refugees. According to the local congresswoman, Abigail Spanberger, refugees are staying in “barrack-style housing where men and women are separated, with the exception of younger children… There are also trailers being brought in for family units. They are building a large cafeteria, as well as play and religious spaces.”
My reader explained that his SIV former employee couldn’t reach him until he obtained a U.S. phone network SIM card. “He confirmed that the day of the bombing he was in contact with others on our list and that none were injured or killed – but all of them are still in Afghanistan. He was told to expect to be housed on Camp Pickett for four to six weeks while local sponsorship and housing is arranged.”
My reader described his former employee as “filled with immense gratitude and joy. I imagine the immigrants of the late 1800s felt the same emotions as they sailed into New York harbor. He admitted he cried tears of joy today — it’s sinking in. He’s overwhelmed to be in the United States with his family. He’ll be able to find work in construction as a competent quality control engineer or assistant project manager. There will be no shortage of opportunities for men with his education and background. He told me, ‘I want to work hard to make my children’s future life brighter.’”
But, my reader observes, this is one happy story amongst a lot of unresolved fates at the moment. “My green card holder and many, many more are still stuck. We can celebrate for a few minutes – but back to the grind of getting the rest out.”