RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Afghan families fleeing Taliban control of their country are now arriving in North Carolina after a dramatic military evacuation.
The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, USCRI, and their community partners had just seven hours’ notice before an Afghan family of five arrived at RDU Airport Saturday night.
This is the first family under USCRI’s care to arrive in Raleigh.
The father, who spoke with CBS17 on the basis of anonymity for safety concerns, described relief and anticipation about their new life in North Carolina.
“I believe my dream come true the moment that it landed. I’ve waited for this for a long time,” he said.
He and his family fled the Kabul airport on Aug. 19, just days after the city and country fell to the Taliban.
He described the chaos of crowds of people urgently flooding the airport back in Afghanistan.
“Everybody, people who worked, people who didn’t. It was a panic because of the takeover of the Taliban,” he said.
He helped United States forces for nearly two decades and, in Raleigh, he knows one person, Brian Morris, an old friend and retired special ops soldier he worked alongside in Afghanistan for years.
“Somebody like a guide for me, big brother for me, it’s really great it’s feeling great to be here,” he said.
Morris was waiting at the airport to welcome his friend to his new life.
“Of everything that’s happened, out of all the horrible things that have happened, this is probably the best thing that’s come out of this entire experience,” Morris said.
Morris said he’s already setting up a stable job for the man.
“If anybody deserves to be an American and live the American dream, it’s guys like this that fought so hard with us for so many years,” Morris said.
USCRI field office director Omer Omer said a long journey now begins for the family to settle in.
“I am glad they are now here,” Omer said. “We will start right away by visiting them tomorrow and make sure they have all they need. Then we will connect them to the department of social services, later on, social security and all the papers that they need.”
Community partner, Faisal Khan with the Carolina Peace Center, said the process goes far beyond finding a place to live.
“The real trauma will be psychological trauma. Just getting situated,” Khan said. “Just getting your life back to normalcy and the word normalcy cannot be taken lightly because it’s going to take some time.”
The Carolina Peace Center says the state is expecting more than 1,100 Afghan refugees to cities across North Carolina over the next six months.
The Afghan man and his family said they still have family back in Afghanistan and in the U.S. waiting to reunite with him.
He has a message for loved ones back at home.
“I’m just praying for them — they’re on their own for right now but it’s not over. It’s not over for the bad guys, we’re not done with the bad guys,” he said.