Afghan Refugees and Tallahassee Family Sponsors Build Lifelong Friendship and Foster Community Support for Refugees
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) – Since October, the International Rescue Committee has joined the community in helping more than 150 people who have left everything behind in Afghanistan.
Nazir Niazi, a US government interpreter in Afghanistan, was on one of the last planes leaving Kabul.
On August 9, 2021, Nazir married his wife on a normal day in Kabul.
Five days later, the Niazi family desperately tried to evacuate as the government crumbled and the Taliban took control of Kabul.
As thousands of people rushed to Kabul airport, only Nasir, his wife Nabila and his brother Bashir arrived inside Kabul airport.
“We spent four days inside the airport on sand and garbage. It was a very bad situation,” Nazir said.
On August 22, they evacuated and left behind her father, mother, sister and other brothers.
Nazir, Nabila and Bashir traveled for six months from Afghanistan to Qatar, then Germany to a US military base in New Mexico, before arriving in Tallahassee in January.
“We started a new life here. There are a lot of difficulties, but luckily we have good people here helping us get off to a good start,” Nazir said.
In February, at an International Rescue Committee event, they met the McKibbens, who offered to share meals, drive them on dates and even take them to explore local hotspots.
“I was inspired by their spirit, their attitude and their kindness,” said Candace McKibben, local pastor and godmother of the Niazi family.
“They are our family. We don’t have anyone else here. It started as a friendship and now they are our family,” Nazir said.
Meanwhile, Nazir prays for his Afghan family he left behind.
“They are fine, but there is no work, no income, no food for people. Everyone should live in a peaceful and free country. That’s all we want. So we want the United Nations to always watch over Afghanistan because they need help,” Nazir said.
Now the McKibbens are working to mobilize more community support for the refugees resettling here.
“So many people who come to our country are very talented and have great skills, experience and training. I hope our community can use these valuable people,” Candace said.
Nasir currently works at a Walmart in Tallahassee, but hopes to find a job soon using his business degree.
Nasir and his wife Nabila are also preparing to welcome their first child this year. The McKibbens have already enthusiastically taken them shopping for clothes and baby items.
The International Rescue Committee says some refugees in Tallahassee are having similar experiences while others are really struggling right now.
The IRC says more refugees from Afghanistan, Ukraine, Syria and other countries are expected to arrive here soon, so there will be more need for affordable housing, jobs, family sponsors, volunteers, fundraising and other services.
If you would like to help, visit the IRC website or the Tallahassee Refuge Connection website.
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