Family leaves behind home in Afghanistan to start anew in Las Vegas

Family leaves behind home in Afghanistan to start anew in Las Vegas

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LAS VEGAS (KLAS) – Aysha Popal still remembers the bomb blast that nearly sunk her family’s chance of escape.

“We were grateful, and thankful that luckily, we came to America,” she said.

Popal speaks a language called Dari and spoke through an interpreter.

In August of 2021, two suicide bombers killed nearly 200 people near the Kabul International Airport in Afghanistan, including 13 U.S. troops. On Tuesday, the Pentagon announced the mastermind behind the attack was killed.

Popal said she was in that area but managed to get past the security checkpoint.

“From that moment on, the American soldiers treated us very respectfully. They took care of us. They treated us very well,” Popal said.

Her family, which included her five daughters, left Afghanistan right before the Taliban took back power.

The Taliban immediately banned girls from going to school beyond the sixth grade.

“The whole world is a witness of the current situation, as everyone knows that in Afghanistan the girls are not allowed, permitted to go to school,” Popal said.

The family’s journey to Las Vegas from Afghanistan wasn’t a straight one. They first traveled to Qatar from Afghanistan, then to Germany. After that, they spent three months at a military installation in Virginia where they learned about attending public school.

One of The Popal’s daughters attends Bonanza High School. She enrolled there at the start of the 2022 – 2023 school year.

Her U.S. History teacher Ryan Schlotter said he has helped the family. His family’s immigration story from Italy inspired him.

“Like five daughters in a weekly, that’s terrible,” Schlotter said.

“My heart breaks for things like that. I want to provide but I’m a teacher so, when you’re a teacher it’s like. There’s nothing that comes out,” Schlotter said as he open his wallet.

Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada oversees the resettlement of refugees at the state and local levels. They’ve helped families like The Popal family.

“As you might imagine, it’s a big leap from wherever they’re coming from to here. As it would be for us going the other way,” Jeffrey Tilton, director of Refugee Resettlement at Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada said. “So, we try to orient them to you know, how to handle the banking industry. How to do things as simple as go grocery shopping.”

The African Community Center in Las Vegas and the Northern Nevada International Center in Reno are two organizations that also assist in resettling refugees.

As for Popal, she’s grateful for the freedoms her five daughters now have.

“I want my daughters to reach out to become medical professionals, engineers, be a professor at a college, study journalism,” Popal said.

Dreams and careers that are possible in the U.S.

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