Afghan Refugees Celebrate First Thanksgiving

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It's a new beginning for newly settled refugees in North Texas. A family that escaped after the U.S. military left Afghanistan is now ready to celebrate its first Thanksgiving in the United States.

The Afzal family, referred to only by their last name for their safety, has plenty to be thankful for — the family of five, a husband, a wife, and three kids, all have new lives in North Texas after fleeing Afghanistan in the summer.

"We are thankful for the U.S. government, that they gave us a chance to live here in the United States,” Mr. Afzal said.

The family's journey began in August during the chaotic final days of the war in Afghanistan as the Taliban took over and the U.S. scrambled to get families like the Afzals out of the country.

Afzal quickly became a target of the Taliban because he trained with the FBI, aided U.S. forces for six years, and joined his country's military.

“This is an amazing father and husband who sacrificed many, many things for the U.S.,” said John Simonds.

Simonds is among a group of people who worked for six days to get all five family members out safely.

“We thought he was dead. The word and the chatter was that the Taliban had already got him,” said Simonds.

The family was finally able to board a military plane after three tries. They arrived first in Fort Bliss, then made their way to Fort Worth where Simonds and others are now helping the family move out of an apartment and into their new home just in time to celebrate their first Thanksgiving.

The family is also thankful for a new family member due to arrive any day now -- a baby girl.

“We're really happy for that, to bring a new American citizen here in the United States. That's a pleasure for us,” said Mr. Afzal.

“They're happy. They are thankful. They're just excited to be here and be able to show Americans they were worth saving,” said Simonds.

Simonds urges ordinary citizens to get involved with organizations that help refugees resettle.

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