Long story short: Qismat was 19 years old when he signed up to be an interpreter in for the Army. He served alongside US soldiers (including my husband Matt) for three years, then applied for an immigration visa to escape death threats and the Taliban. He's been waiting since June 2013 to come to America. Yesterday, the day President Trump issued a ban on refugee travel, Qismat was granted his visa.
Please help buy his plane ticket and give him a fresh start!
1/30 UPDATE: You raised $20,000 in 24 hours, that's incredible and heartwarming. The goal has been met - but please keep sharing sharing and donating! Every donation will help secure Qismat's financial future, he will have unexpected expenses and this will make his fresh start a little easier. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Full story: Qismat and Matt, met on Matt's first deployment in 2010-2011 to the Nangarhar region of Afghanistan. They worked together day in, day out, and became very close friends.
In June 2013, Qismat applied for a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) and was stuck in "administrative processing" for years. As of yesterday, he has his visa. We are so relieved, but also anxious...
Qismat wants to arrive in America as soon as possible, before additional refugee bans are put in place. We are concerned he could be stuck in Afghanistan if he waits for the official assistance programs to issue him funds for a plane ticket.
Please help us get Qismat to California and set up for his new life! Qismat will stay with us in Palo Alto when he lands. He may move to Sacramento, where a close interpreter friend settled last fall, or Denver, where he could stay with Matt's parents.
Your generosity will cover transportation for him and bridge the time between now and when the immigration assistance program will provide financial resources. Specifically, funds raised will be used for a plane ticket, clothes, shoes, transportation, cell phone, medical expenses, all the basic things someone needs after leaving their home behind. Eventually he'll take classes, get a license, need transportation for a job, a job and eventually a place with some roommates. We are setting up a bank account for him to access when he arrives.
He's been through enough out of service to others, let's get him on his feet. We are thankful for anything you can contribute, and Qismat is too! He can't wait to get here, be safe, and start his new life.
Why does he need money, what about his pay from when he worked for the Army? This is a fair question; simply, Qismat's been in hiding for years and is out of savings. He was unable to get hired as a translator after he applied for the visa because organizations thought he might get through the process at any moment and leave. He's had to borrow money from friends to get by and has nothing left.
Additionally, he's been separated from his family during great loss. Qismat could not visit his family or hometown after 2011 because he received death threats. Qismat's father was diagnosed with cancer during this time, and Qismat spent his savings on medical treatments but it was not enough and his father passed away. In October, 2015 the Taliban threatened his family and confiscated their crops to force them to reveal where Qismat was hiding. Qismat, and his family, will be safe once he gets here.
Articles about Qismat's journey:
Army veteran struggles to save interpreter stuck in Afghanistan, San Francisco Chronicle, August 2016
- NCTA NCTA
- Michael Schubert