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Catholic Charities assists refugees and immigrants that are legally in the United States. Our Refugee Resettlement program supports refugees who flee their country of origin, often running from violence, war and persecution, to save their lives. They are granted refugee status by the United Nations due to a well-founded case of persecution and cleared for entrance to America by our Department of Homeland Security.

Our Immigration Legal Services team helps reunite those in the U.S. legally with minor children and spouses who remain in their country of origin. Many of those we assist are refugees — those granted refugee status by the United Nations and invited here by the U.S. Federal Government — to reunite with their spouses and minor children. We also help U.S. citizens and those with legal residency secure residency for their spouses and/or children.

Monday, 09 October 2023

Afghan Doctor Begins a New Kind of Life-Saving Work in America

When Americans leave their homes to go to work, fearing for their safety usually isn’t part of the job description. But in war-torn countries, people like Hameedullah risk their lives to go to work.

Hameedullah is a 41-year-old Afghan who is married with three children. His desire to help and care for others led him to attend and graduate from medical school in 2015. In 2017, Hameedullah began working at one of the U.S. military bases to assist American and Afghan soldiers with trauma and medical needs.

Every day when he left for work, he knew there was no guarantee he would return. He was subjected to nightmarish attacks by Al-Qaeda, even having to defend himself against direct shots toward his vehicle. Hameedullah utilized several techniques to keep himself safe, including changing his vehicle, taking different routes to and from work, and hiding his face with a scarf.

The Beginning of a Long Journey

In August 2021, the American government decided to quickly withdraw American troops from Afghanistan. Hameedullah was working in Jala-Abad Province at the time and urgently made his way to Kabul to evacuate Afghanistan.

Three days passed before his wife and kids were able to join him at Kabul International Airport. Chaos and tension surrounded the family as crowds of Afghans who were working with the U.S. military entered the airport.

Escaping an Uncertain Future

He and his family were ushered into a C-130 military plane with 400 or 500 other people. Like Hameedullah, they were also eagerly escaping an uncertain, unsettling future under Al-Qaeda control. There was no space to move around or sleep, but anything was better than staying put.

Within three hours, the plane arrived in Qatar, and the family stayed two days there at an American military base. There were no beds to sleep in on the first night, but Hameedullah felt rejuvenated knowing that safety was within reach.

The family soon arrived in Germany and spent four weeks at another military base, where they faced cold weather and a lack of food. They flew to New Mexico, where they stayed for three months in a military camp, and then finally arrived in Arizona.

Living Safely and Freely in America

The Catholic Charities Refugee Resettlement team met Hameedullah and his family at the airport and took them to their new home. In addition to locating, furnishing living spaces, and equipping them with necessities, Refugee Resettlement also offers case management and resources like English language courses and job and resume assistance to help refugees adjust to the U.S.

Once the family was settled, program staff helped Hameedullah enroll his kids in school. His wife was hired to be a teacher assistant at a school in Phoenix.

Hameedullah is still serving others, but this time as a case manager helping other refugees resettle in the U.S. He dreams of one day bringing all his certificates and paperwork over from Afghanistan and finishing his education here so he can work as a doctor again.

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