Samim Salmi, 35, was deported to Afghanistan three years ago on a special immigrant visa, along with his wife Zarifa and his daughter, four, near Washington.
“The younger generation needs to rebuild our country. Our country needs us. But unfortunately due to security … we have to go“, He explains to AFP in his elegant apartment in the north of the state of Virginia.
When the US military leaves the country after 20 years, Washington plans to expel thousands of Afghans who worked for it, especially as translators. But the procedures will be lengthy, and amid fears of retaliation by the Taliban, voices are calling on the Biden administration to act quickly.
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Last week, more than 200 Afghans and their families landed at Washington Dallas International Airport.
– “No one understands me“-
It is a familiar story to Samim Salmi, who worked as a cameraman for NATO and USAID, an American international aid agency, but the Taliban filed a threatening visa application against him and his family.
He no longer did the job he wanted to do, for which he was decorated by the Afghan government, and learning English and sustaining his family felt like a real struggle. Samim Salmi was able to face the challenge, thanks to US government assistance, the Afghans and his friends the strangers.
“At first it was hard to think of this as my second homeThe deportation shock was so strong that, two months later, the couple wanted to return to Afghanistan, where they had lived with Samim’s mother, who had now become widows due to Kovit, and his brothers and sisters, including his twin brother, Samim, were now threatened by the Taliban.
Yet Samim has already lost his family members in the attacks.
“If I die there, people will know me. But if I die here, no one will know me“, He explains.
The language barrier was the most difficult barrier.
“No one understood me when I spoke. My wife does not speak English and my daughter does not“, He says, his daughter, now 7, speaks impeccable English while playing with her little brother on Afghan carpets.
– Go back behind the camera –
But friends in Afghanistan persuaded him to stay and help him start as a driver, including selling a car on credit to processors like Uber or Lift.
On the road, he made new friends. As if this traveler and his family had helped keep his head above water at the birth of his son who had been in the hospital for a month. These American friends financed his rent and health care expenses, which was very expensive in the United States.
Today, Samim Salmi owns two cars and is insured, driving an elegant Honda whose trunk is lined with Afghan rugs.
But he will be behind a camera rather than the steering wheel.
“I always want to achieve my goal. (Washington) To be the king of the camera in DC. Maybe it will happen one day. Nothing is possible when you work patiently and hard“, He says.
As he drives, he says he is ready to help the new Afghanistan coming.
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“If they need help I will do … as others have done for me“, He promises.”I will say to them: + Welcome, welcome to the United States“.
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