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Najeb's Story at HIAS Refugee Shabbat

03/07/2022 05:40:15 PM

Mar7

Najeb Arab

First of all, I want to say hello to all of you. Some of you know me already, and some are meeting me for the first time. 
I will tell you my and my family’s story, but first I want to introduce myself to you. My name is Najebulah Arab. I am 31 years old. I am here with my wife, Maryam, and three sons.


I studied law and graduated from Alfala University, in Jalalabad on Nangarhar Province. At the same time I was going to the university, I worked for 9 years at different jobs in an American military camp in Afghanistan. 


At first, I worked as a driver for an Afghan company which was hired directly by the US military. After that I was hired by the camp’s service operations as a supervisor. I was responsible for all 35 people who provided all the services to the camp. This included laundry services, insuring the camp had clean water, and that the dirty used water along with the garbage was transported out of the camp. At the same time, the US Army was providing supplies to other camps. At that time, I was driving for them. Additionally, I was hired by the camp to maintain the trucks used by the soldiers and locals. 


I am very proud of my job for the US military, the trust they placed in me, and the many commendations and recommendations I received as base operations supervisor. I still miss my job. As proud as I was of my job, it was also the cause of problems for my family. 


One day, some bad people called my family and threatened them. They said that I was a spy for the American troops. My father and my brothers explained I was not a spy, I was just working there. But it didn’t work. 
Time passed and one day as I was returning to my house, there were some bad people who were either waiting for me, or had followed me home. As I arrived at my door, they shot me in the chest. I still have the bullet inside me. My family took me to the hospital. When I woke up, my family told me the story.

I knew this was a problem. So I left my province and moved to Kabul, because everyone in my province knew me, and that I worked in the military camps. In Kabul, no one knew me. I thought it would be safer for me and my family. 
When the Taliban took over the country, and the country collapsed, my family and I were in great danger. 


Fortunately, I know Major Chris, because he was working at the same camp in 2014. A friend of mine contacted Major Chris, who was here in the states and told him about our situation. Major Chris contacted someone in Kabul, and he gave our name and our numbers to someone who could help us. 


Major Chris is my family’s hero, because he protected me and my family’s life. Also, I am proud of my Har HaShem congregation members. 


Sometime later, someone called us and told us to go to a certain gate at the airport. My friend and I and our families left for the airport and waited with hundreds of thousands of people outside the gate. 


We were lucky! We were called to enter the airport. They took us into a military C17 transport plane. There were about 500 people in the plane but no seats. We were flown to Qatar. Our first stop on our way to a country I could not even imagine. We spent 4 days there in a military camp. 


From Qatar, we were flown to a military camp in Germany, where we spent about two months, and then to the US. We stopped in DC on our way to Indiana. America seemed so very nice. We were treated well at the airport. In Indiana, we were again in a military camp. We were processed there, and after 2 months, we left for Boulder, Colorado. 


Why Boulder, Colorado? Because Major Chris was here. And he told our story to Lutheran Family Services and to you, Har HaShem. And because of you, I have a home for my family. I am so very thankful. I feel very good here, like I am at home. I feel safe here. Our future will be good here. I am really optimistic for my kids’ future. 


I am so happy and thankful to this congregation. You have provided all the material things we need to live here, but you have provided something more, friendship. Something we need because we left all our family and friends in Afghanistan. 
I don’t know what will happen to my friends and my family in Afghanistan.


But I do hope that I will be successful here. Then I can help my family there. They need this help very badly. There, I have 23 family members in one house, including my parents and my brothers and their families. My brothers have lost their jobs, my parents are old, and my country is suffering a great famine. Besides the 23 family members who live together, I have 5 living sisters, the sixth passed away. I worry for them too. My family is facing financial and food issues to survive. So you see, I must succeed. 


I am very thankful for the help I have received from my teachers to improve my English. This is important for me and my family’s future. My English teachers are my future, for my future life in the USA. I am thankful to all who have helped me, but some are very special, like Major Chris, who helped me get out of Afghanistan, and Elizabeth, Lauren, Roxanne, Judith, and Jim for whom I have special appreciation. 


To all of you, members of this congregation, I thank you for all your help. It has made a big difference in my and my family’s life. I am at your service. Any question you have about me or my family, you can ask any time.
 

Fri, May 20 2022 19 Iyar 5782