Stories of Change


CWS case manager Lydia and a community sponsor with the Azimi family

A new life and new hope for an Afghan family

Our visit to the Azimi family was one of the major highlights in April. The Azimi family were among the evacuees when Kabul fell. After eight days in the Kabul airport, long sleepless nights and constant uncertainty, the family finally boarded an airplane for Qatar. They spent three nights in a military airport in Qatar before arriving in Germany for 10 more days of interviews and screening, proving their case for an entry into the United States. The sight of Dulles International Airport spelled freedom for the Azimi family. After 41 years in Afghanistan, here was the Azimi family ending one long chapter of their lives, beginning a brand new one that started with the sight of the Washington Monument. 

The Azimi are a family of seven, five children and parents. Counting everyone else in the Azimi family including those who are still in Afghanistan, the family includes up to 20 people: five sisters of the husband and both sides of their parents and cousins. The Azimis have much to celebrate for their arrival here, but they also have much to worry about since the rest of their family whom they shared food and house with remain in Afghanistan. Their grandfather also worked with the U.S. Army, so he could be a target in Afghanistan. “The other day armed men visited my father. The first thing he did was to hide his phone. He has evidence of communication with us in the United States. That only can end his life,” Mr. Azimi told me. 

Meanwhile, in their new house in Burlington, North Carolina thanks to the services of Church World Service, the Azimi family now live in a three bedroom house with a lovely back porch. The kids were too excited for their new life. They welcomed us with a cold energy drink–we needed that at nearly 70 degrees Fahrenheit. There were also community sponsors who were in the house during the interview with the Azimi family. Despite the limited English of the family, the house was filled with joy, happiness and lots of English words. “I love it here,.”  said the oldest son in the family in perfect English. “How did you learn English?” I asked. “I listen..,” the boy said, laughing hard while his siblings taunted him. An argument erupted, with his siblings using some English but mostly Pashto. What I saw that day was the future Americans, the generation that will contribute to the fabric of diversity that makes the United States such a wonderful place. 

The Azimis had just moved a day earlier. “Thanks to Lydia, our case manager, and CWS, without them everything would be hard.” Mr. Azimi looked around, surrounded by loving and supportive community sponsors, “Thanks to the community sponsors…We would not know where to begin our new life without these people.” Lydia, who is the case manager of the family and was wearing her CWS shirt, was there to make sure the family has what they need in their new house. She was taking notes on details of even small things—small rip in the window screen. As we left after a successful visit to the family, they all came together to walk us to the parking lot, with a big smile on their face, waving “Goodbye.” It was goodbye just for the day. CWS will return many more times in the next few weeks and months until the Azimi family finds their footing, and adjusts their cases permanently. Their story goes on as they navigate their new life together.