When the Kashefi family first arrived to Southern California in March of 2017, it was because Bashir Kashefi had finally secured a safe exit, after having worked for the U.S. government there for more than a decade.
But a summer trip to visit family timed out very badly for the Kashefis, who arrived in Afghanistan in June with a return trip planned just days before the country fell into the hands of the Taliban.
In a video sent to NBC4, Bashir Kashefi said he feared for his family’s life.
“We tried to leave Afghanistan more than nine times,” he said. “We went to the airport to get a plane but unfortunately because it was so crowded, it was hard to get in.”
He says repeated attempts by members of the US government also proved futile.
And when US troops pulled out, he says he nearly lost all hope.
“Just dealing with life right now in Kabul, Afghanistan... it’s so hard right now and difficult than ever before,” Kashefi said.
Kashefi was the basis for an April 2017 NBC4 story about a local non-profit called Miry’s List. Miry Whitehill has started the charity to help refugee families resettle in the United States. The Kashefi family was one of the first families Miry’s List helped to find an apartment, furnish it and set them on their path to thrive in the U.S.
Bashir Kashefi became an ambassador for Miry’s List – a success story – of what the nonprofit is able to do, even appearing in a special TedX Talk from Belmont Shores, sharing his story of starting over.
Miry’s List announced its Emergency Action Fund in August of 2021, following the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, that’s lead to donations from the likes of Lady Gaga to help resettle refugee families.
So it may come as no surprise that Miry’s List once again stepped in to help the Kashefi family find their way home.
A group of volunteers – they call themselves the Hive – made sure the Kashefi family wouldn’t feel the trauma of returning to the US like they did when they first arrived.
“They’re in a live or die situation one way or the other,” says Hive volunteer Laurel Felt. “World events conspired against them. They didn’t do anything wrong. They didn’t bring anything upon themselves.”
The Hive has been raising money to cover the costs of living for the family while abroad and covering bills back home to keep them up to date when they return.
“We really wanted to make sure the rent was paid, utilities were paid, certainly the mobile phone because that was our lifeline to him,” said Hive volunteer Shareef Mustafa. “We wanted to make sure their repatriation to the US wasn’t filled with the same anxiety as when they came in 2017.”
And good news came Monday morning – the Kashefi Family sharing photos from Doha, Qatar. They were out of Afghanistan and safe.
“Bashir confirmed they all slept soundly last night for the first time in a long time,” said Felt.
The family’s return to Southern California and their home in Anaheim, though, is still unclear. It will likely cost additional money and effort from volunteers, who hope to see the Kashefi’s stateside soon.