Vickery Trading Company in Dallas is a nonprofit that employs refugee women to learn sewing and other skills in an effort to "set them up for long-term success."
When one of their former apprentices from Afghanistan returned home with her children to visit family, there was worry she would not get back to North Texas.
"She stayed to have a little more time with family, thinking, like the rest of the world, that they have a little more time before Kabul fell," Vickery Trading Co. executive director and founder Stephanie Giddens said. "All of a sudden everything just shut down and the U.S. was only allowed in the confines of the airport."
Giddens spent sleepless nights working on logistics and contacting anyone who could help get the woman and her two young children, all U.S. citizens, back to the states before the Aug. 31 deadline for the U.S. to leave Afghanistan passed.
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"Going through the process of communicating with her on the ground, 'OK, go to this gate, now that's compromised, now go to this gate,'" Giddens explained. "It was like living through the middle of this crazy movie that we're living every day trying to get them out, and everything we tried and every path we tried wasn't working."
"I had this confidence that the U.S. goes in and gets their people," Giddens said. "But there were many times where I wasn't sure that she was actually going to be able to get out."
The family finally was able to leave Afghanistan and is now safely back in North Texas, but Giddens said her work is not finished.
She is trying to get about 250 family members of current and former Vickery Trading Co. apprentices out of Afghanistan.
"It's personal to me but it's beyond that," Giddens said. "We owe this to the people of Afghanistan who have helped us."