This family broke up in Kabul. A year later they are still not together.


The night before Masi and his father were to leave Afghanistan, the 16-year-old was unable to sleep. The last time he was at the airport, his life was ruined, his family broke up.

“I didn’t know how to get to the airport again,” Masi said. “It wasn’t easy for me.”

When he and his father, Ahmad Wali Stanekzai, arrived at Kabul International Airport in April, they were flooded with bad memories of eight months ago when the entire family joined the crowd in a desperate attempt to leave Afghanistan after the capital fell to the occupation. Taliban.

Then there was an explosion – a suicide bombing by ISIS-K. The family was divided in chaos. His mother was killed; he and his father were separated from his two younger siblings, who were injured.

Now, more than four months after arriving in Qatar from Afghanistan and more than a year after that deadly attack, the family is still not together.

“I get so upset when I remember how we broke up and lost our mother,” Masi said.

“I experienced the worst trauma as a child,” he told CNN in a text message. “I want my freedom. I want to be reunited with my brother and sister. I want to live in my house with the rest of my family.”

The rest of his family lives in Virginia. His siblings, Faisal, 14, and Mina, 8, eventually came under the care of their aunt Ferishta Stanekzai after they were separated from their parents in a bombing last August. Mina and Faisal, along with a neighbor, made it to the airport and boarded a plane to Germany, where they were treated for their injuries at Landstuhl Hospital before leaving for the US, where they were also treated at the Walter Reed Medical Center outside of Washington. , COLUMBIA REGION.

According to Ferishta, the past year and especially the last month have been difficult for the family from Virginia.

Both children are still coping with the trauma they experienced. Mina regularly has nightmares, fits of anger, and from time to time she begged to go to Qatar to be with her father and brother, her aunt told CNN.

“Sometimes she asks a lot of questions about her mother – why she was killed and why no one helped her,” Ferishta said.

It has not been easy for Ferishta either, as she takes care of her nephew and niece, handles both their custody case and that of her brother and another nephew, and also works at her regular job.

“Managing all of this is getting so difficult for me, and it’s getting harder to manage every day,” she said.

Members of the Stanekzai family are visible in this undated photo.

“How overnight I became a single mother, not knowing, for example, how to enroll children in school. All this was a new experience for me,” Ferishta added.

Mina, who is in third grade, told CNN she loves the school. Her favorite subject is physical education. She enjoys “jumping and running” and the doctor told her that her leg, which was injured in the Kabul bombing, is fine but sometimes hurts.

Family members talk every day. Mina tells her older brother and father that she loves them. Masi finds out about their school. He said he was happy to see them in school uniform.

“Hopefully I’ll be able to wear my school uniform soon too,” Masi told CNN.

Ferishta said she wants the US government to work faster on cases and that she and her family have not received clear answers about why her brother and nephew still cannot come to the United States. She and retired Air Force Lieutenant General John Bradley, who runs the Afghan Lamia Foundation and has worked with the family, told CNN that Ahmad Wali and Masi filled out forms, interviews and medical checks.

“They were just left alone and never given much information,” Bradley said.

“The family needs to be together again. None of us would think it appropriate to separate people for a year from their parents when they are small children,” Bradley said.

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