Afghan interpreter and his family arrive in Rochester
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — After years of waiting, a family from Afghanistan can finally call the City of Rochester their new home.
Zar Mohammad Stanikzai, and his family fled for their safety after last year’s takeover by the Taliban. News10NBC met the family at the Rochester Airport, after they flew in from Qatar. The family arrived just after 11 o’clock Tuesday night. They finally escaped their troubled homeland after being stuck there for 5 long years.
“He’s free. This family is free, and that’s what excites me the most about them being here, and being in Rochester,” said Ellen Smith.
More coverage of refugees in Rochester:
- Afghan Refugees Working to Care for Local Hospital Patients (Oct 11)
- Many Ukrainians make Western New York their refuge (May 3)
- Saint’s Place preparing for 900 refugees to Rochester in next 12 months (June 22)
- A look at how Afghan refugees in Rochester are adjusting (Dec 2021)
- Saint’s Place working to help Afghan refugees get ready for winter with clothing closet (Oct 2021)
After flying halfway around the world, a tired Zar Mohammad Stanikzai, and his family can finally start their new life in Rochester.
“Just very excited to be here, and in our new home with my family,” said Stanikzai.
For several years Stanikzai worked as an Interpreter for the US Military at a couple of camps in Afghanistan. As US Troops started to withdraw from the country he immediately filed for a Visa in 2016. Initially he was denied, but tried again, and was granted one last year.
“But he could not get out of Afghanistan,” said Smith, Executive Director of Keeping Our Promise.
She told News10NBC although our government listed Stanikzai as “Visa Issued,” he was not in the clear. The family’s documents were placed in “Administration Process.”
“When the embassy closed up, and went to the airport all the documents were destroyed. His passport, his visa, everything was destroyed. So he was essentially a prisoner in Afghanistan, and he couldn’t get out. So he had to go, and get new passports,” said Smith.
Thanks to the Keeping Our Promise organization, and help from Congress the family was able to get out. Stanikzai says he was motivated to bring his family to the United States so his children could have a better life.
“So there was no hope for the children to go and educate themselves. This was the basic rights, and opportunity for them to have it,” said Stanikzai.
Eventually Stanikzai, his wife, and two children first traveled to Qatar. They spent several months there before being resettled in Rochester. Stanikzai’s parents actually live in California, but Rochester was their first choice.
“I choose to live here. I want to have this opportunity for me and my family,” said Stanikzai.
So far the Keeping Our Promise organization has helped resettle 50 families from Afghanistan here in Rochester.
After years of waiting and long periods of uncertainty, a family from Afghanistan can now call Rochester their new home. Zar Mohammad Stanikzia and his family arrived late last night after flying in from Qatar.
The Stanikzai family arrived just after 11 p.m. on Tuesday at the Frederick Douglass Greater Rochester International Airport. They finally escaped their homeland after waiting for 5 years.
From this morning