Last year, Farhad Wajdi was in Kabul with her parents and siblings, running a non-profit project that set up local women with food carts on the street.
It captures international headlines and receives support from US non-governmental organizations and the Afghan government. But now, the Taliban return to power in the country, which took place much faster than US or Afghan officials say is possible, has boosted the family’s wealth and broken it between the two countries.
US withdrew its last troops from Afghanistan on Monday, marking the end of his 20-year war in the country. But the legacy of what the US is doing in the country will remain through families such as the Wajdi and the dangers, which they often face. Wajdi has attracted the attention of media outlets such as the Guardian, BBC News, and Al Jazeera as well as recognition and financial support from international organizations such as the US-based Asia Foundation and Global Citizen. The Afghan government also provided confiscated motorcycles to underprivileged people. But her curiosity is what forced her to leave her country last year – and now she is putting her family at risk.
Wajdi lives in Virginia, where he moved last year for safety after ISIS terrorists threatened his life, he said. He went to America before his parents and siblings, and planned to stay with him at the end – but no one realized he had just a short time before the government collapsed. From the Taliban swept to power, Wajdi’s family has been in hiding, and has contacted anyone they know to try to get rid of them. Many people and organizations have tried, but to no avail.
The futility of their family carts has led women to quickly sell lunch like pasta and rice to pedestrians in Kabul. Street food is popular in Kabul, but is usually sold by men. When Wajdi started the organization with the help of his family in 2010, another problem was that the women had to push their own cars which were dirty, said Wajdi. “Traditionally, it is considered bad for a woman to push a cart,” he said.
As a result, Wajdi and his father, who were well-versed in electronics, worked together to make solar-powered carts. His mother, he said, advises and helps trailer dealers. They encountered verbal and intimidating remarks, Wajdi said, but the trailers helped them raise money to support their families, which made a huge difference to those who were orphans.
Last year, when Afghanistan came in because of COVID-19 and street food vendors could no longer work, the wagons were it was transformed into a disinfectant unit.
“Seeing that my mother was empowered, it helped to make my vision clearer, that I should help more women to be like my mother,” said Wajdi.
But not all the people did the work. Last summer, Wajdi started making threatening phone calls.
He states: “Because of our reputation, we had an accident. “A young man called me from a secret number and said that you were promoting western ideas in Afghanistan.”
Many phones came. At first, he did not think seriously about them. But then he received a Facebook message, which he shared with BuzzFeed News, threatening the “target [his] at work and at home ”and“ her final resting-place will be hell. ” The post, which appears to be still on Facebook, identified itself as part of the Islamic State Islamic State, an ISIS regional organization that uses the historical name of the region that includes modern-day Afghanistan and Pakistan. The message said Wajdi only wanted to use a few Hazara women as wagon dealers. “If you surrender yourself to us, we can reduce your punishment,” he said.
“I was scared,” said Wajdi. He closed the office and took 40 wagons to his house. Her parents did not listen to the threats. Their years in the war showed that they needed to do so.
The couple decided that Wajdi should go to Virginia for asylum, since she had a US tourist visa and that her uncle lived there. His parents, who did not have US visas, could not go with him.
It was a heartbreaking idea, but at the time, Wajdi thought he could finally help his parents get along. But then everything changed.
“As soon as the Taliban took power, we left our house immediately,” his parents told BuzzFeed News in an email. A neighbor told them that terrorists had broken into their home while they were out searching the area, asking about them. On the day of the Taliban’s sweep in Kabul, Wajdi had seen television news of the influx of people to the airport, and there were rumors that Afghans were boarding a plane for staying in the right place at the right time. It was dangerous, but in view of the dangers, the retreat could be even worse.
Wajdi’s parents decided to take the initiative. With their young children, they left everything except a few bags of food and drink, asking a neighbor to look after the house. For several days, he lived in the vicinity of the airport, sleeping on the sidewalk to avoid any inconvenience, and then left at one gate after another according to rumors he had heard of. Shaking papers, he shouted for help from foreign military officials and translators. No one could interfere.
He continued to dump water at the airport, said Wajdi. “Only people can cross – only you and your documents and your children. No bags, no belongings.”
The couple spent many days near the airport, praying for evacuation. (BuzzFeed News is hiding their names to protect their security.) Wajdi was on the phone with her mother, who was charging the phone with an electronic bank. Both of her parents kept saying the same thing: “My son, there is no progress at all.” He spent days calling anyone who could help – a foundation that helped him, journalists and friends in the US and Europe.
When terrorists blasting Hamid Karzai International Airport Thursday, giving at least 170 Afghans and 13 American members, Wajdi’s family was outside the airport – but at another gate, where they heard an explosion but did not hear anything. They are now hiding again. Wajdi heard about the bombing on the news – he immediately tried to call them but could not find his parents. “I was so frustrated with myself,” she says. Later, when the cell signal returned, he was able to speak.
Now that the US is out of Afghanistan, Wajdi is trying to remain optimistic. The Taliban he promised allowing Afghan nationals with foreign passports or foreign passports to leave, but Wajdi does not trust them.
“It’s very difficult,” he said. “When you look at the current state of affairs on television, the future of your country seems bleak. What do you think if one day your parents are killed in front of you? ”
Nowadays, his mind is filled with what-like. Wajdi criticizes the Afghan and American governments for their role in Kabul’s stability. “That’s why my mother and father did not already have passports,” he said. “We were not mentally ready to leave the country.” If Wajdi had not relied on a friend in the Afghan government who sought to allay his fears that the Taliban would defeat the army quickly, he would probably have seen this coming.
He said: “It sounds like a dream. “How can things change so fast? I never thought that it would happen so easily. ”