Faeiza was evacuated from Afghanistan in 2021 after the fall of Kabul.
Education has always been important to Faeiza. Despite support from her family, Faeiza had to leave Afghanistan to be able to earn an undergraduate degree. After she left the country, the Taliban began sending threats to her family. They were angry that her mother had allowed her to leave the country to pursue her dream of getting an education.
After graduation, Faeiza returned to Afghanistan. She got married, found a job in her field, and started teaching at a local university. She was preparing to study for her master’s degree when the Taliban took over the city she was living in. She fled to the capital, and did not say goodbye to her family, because she thought she would be able to go home soon. “I didn’t believe the Taliban could take the country,” she said. After she had been in Kabul for just a week, the Taliban took the whole country. “It was shocking. I was seeing all of my dreams destroyed in front of my eyes.”
It was a hard decision for Faeiza to leave, but she knew she would never be safe if she stayed. She and several friends applied to be evacuated by the US government. Of all of them, Faeiza was the only one who was selected to evacuate. She was notified one evening that she would need to be at the airport the next morning. She reached out to her husband, who had gone to stay with his family shortly before Faeiza left for Kabul, but there was no way for him to get to Kabul. The Taliban had taken over all of the roads between his family’s hometown and Kabul. If Faeiza was going to leave, she would have to go alone.
After being evacuated, Faeiza was very grateful that she was in the United States, especially when she thought about the situation for other women in Afghanistan. “I was grateful to be in a country of opportunities,” Faeiza said. Eventually she was resettled by Exodus in Indianapolis.
However, after a while, Faeiza began to feel alone and helpless. Her family, husband and friends were left behind and she didn’t know when she would see them again. Furthermore, her future was uncertain—the government did not have a plan to help Afghans remain in the United States permanently, and she knew Afghans evacuees did not have the same protections as other refugees. Though the Exodus legal team was assisting her with an application for asylum, the uncertainty was difficult to navigate. Faeiza began talking to the mental wellness team at Exodus to support her through her feelings of hopelessness.
After applying for asylum and travelling to Chicago for her interview, Faeiza had to wait 9 months to hear that she had been granted asylum. Waiting was difficult because until the decision came, she did not know if she would be able to stay in the US and begin building her future here. “I had to wait for them to make a decision about my future. I did not know if I would be able to stay or not or if I could have a future here. It was a really long, hard time. I felt like my eyes had been closed to my dreams.”
Recently, Faeiza’s asylum application was approved, and she began to feel happy and hopeful again. She has been able to resume her dreams she had started working on in Afghanistan in her new home in our community. She has a full-time job, works part time as an interpreter, and is continuing her studies at Ivy Tech. She wants to be able to help other women have chances to get an education and advocate for women’s rights. She was able to apply for her husband to come to the United States to join her, and his application has already been approved.
“We all go through hard things, but whatever situation you are in, know that you are not alone. We all go through hard things, getting through it will make you stronger.”