WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) – A year and a half after the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, some Afghans are working to secure a place for themselves and their families in the U.S. For a former Afghan soldier and his family, help and support is coming from a Wichita family.
With the Afghan army, Rohin supported American troops. With that status, he said he and his family are in danger from the Taliban. But a connection Rohin’s son has in the United States has two families on a mission.
Rohin is in the United States, half a world away from his wife and seven children.
“My family is over there in Afghanistan. I’m in danger right now. You know Afghanistan’s situation is not good,” she said.
Rohin’s family also became part of Tess Goodman’s in Wichita.
“They are such precious people. I’m in love with all of them, and I get videos and photos from the kids, and it would mean a lot to me to get them here,” Goodman said.
Months before the US withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021, Rohin’s son Ehsan joined an online English language course taught by Goodman.
“I knew him very well. She is very bright, she has a great command of the English language and she wants to come to the United States to be a doctor,” Goodman said of the Afghan teenager.
A few months after the last U.S. troops left Afghanistan, Ehsan contacted Goodman, asking for help applying for the Special Immigrant Visa, or “SIV,” and interpreting what was needed.
Rohin said: “We had a lot of problems with English. Because of this, we don’t know what they are sending us, some mysterious documents.
Goodman said for all Rohin, and other Afghan soldiers have done for the United States; it is important that the United States keep its promise to help them come to the United States
“I think we owe it to them; I think it is our patriotic duty. They have served our military, they have served our cause, and they have kept our soldiers alive, many of them. Rohin himself worked in intelligence, so a lot of what he was doing was helping keep our soldiers alive,” Goodman said. “I really feel a commitment and a real debt of gratitude to him and to all Afghan soldiers.” .
They started the SIV application process in October 2021, but it was only accepted earlier this year. The wait for approval continues. Goodman said one of the challenges was tracking down a U.S. Army member who served with Rohin to provide a letter of recommendation. They managed to get it last year.
“God bless that man. Without his letter of recommendation, I don’t know if we’ll be able to get the SIV,” Goodman said.
The wait, Rohin said, has left him and his family in danger from the Taliban. His 19-year-old son Ehsan is currently in Pakistan.
Goodman said: “He has become like a son to me. We talk every day. He is in Pakistan; he is 19 and all alone. He has no family there. He just met someone his age who really speaks his language, and wants to be a doctor, and feels like he’s wasting his whole life there in Pakistan because no one is going to hire an Afghan there in Pakistan, he can’t work.
Late last year, Rohin headed for the US border, crossing a dozen countries to get there.
“From Pakistan, I flew to Brazil and after that, I started my journey from Brazil to the United States,” he said.
Goodman told Rohin he was coming to Wichita.
“My wife and I took him to Wichita on December 26 (2021), and he’s been here ever since,” Goodman said.
Goodman said they helped introduce him to the Afghan community in Wichita, where Rohin is also finding support.
As the SIV process is dragging on, they are working on Rohin’s asylum case and getting him a work permit. Rohin said his family remains optimistic they will reunite in the United States and the opportunities they will present. Especially for his daughters, the hope of getting an education is a passion for them, especially since the Taliban closed all girls’ schools.
“The children I have over there in Afghanistan, they have hope, some hope of being here in the future, and they want to study,” she said.
Rohin tried to exit Afghanistan during the withdrawal of US troops. He said he arrived at Kabul airport, where many Afghans went to look for a way out.
Rohin said, “I saw that there were many people and they are coming to the United States and other countries because the situation was not good. They want to get out of Afghanistan. Their life at that moment was in danger. I too want to go at that time.
One of the days he got there was when the explosion happened that killed 13 American service members.
Goodman started a GoFundMe to support Rohin and his family and to cover part of the cost of the immigration process.