When the Kashefi family first arrived in Southern California in March 2017, it was because Bashir Kashefi had finally been granted a safe exit, after working for the US government for over a decade.
But a summer trip to visit family went very badly for the Kashefi, who arrived in Afghanistan in June with a return trip scheduled just days before the country fell to the Taliban.
In a video sent to NBC4, Bashir Kashefi said he fears for the lives of his family.
“We have tried to leave Afghanistan more than nine times,” he said. “We went to the airport to catch a plane, but unfortunately because there were too many people, it was difficult to get in.
He says repeated attempts by members of the US government have also proved unsuccessful.
And when the American troops withdrew, he says he almost gave up all hope.
“Coping with life right now in Kabul, Afghanistan… it’s so difficult right now and more difficult than ever,” Kashefi said.
Kashefi served as the basis for an April 2017 NBC4 story about a local nonprofit called Miry’s List. Miry Whitehill started the charity to help refugee families resettle in the United States. The Kashefi family were one of the first families Miry’s List helped find an apartment, furnish it, and put them on track to thrive in the United States.
Bashir Kashefi has become the Miry’s List ambassador – an achievement – of what the association is capable of doing, even appearing in a special Belmont Shores TedX Talk, sharing his story of starting over.
Miry’s List announced its Emergency Action Fund in August 2021, following the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, which led to donations from Lady Gaga to help resettle refugee families.
So it’s no surprise that Miry’s List stepped in again to help the Kashefi family return home.
A group of volunteers – they call themselves the Hive – ensured that the Kashefi family did not feel the trauma of returning to the United States as they did when they arrived.
“They’re in a life and death situation one way or another,” says Laurel Felt, a Hive volunteer. “World events conspired against them. They didn’t do anything wrong. They brought nothing on themselves.
The Hive raised funds to cover the costs of living the family overseas and to cover bills at home to keep them up to date when they return.
“We really wanted to make sure the rent was paid, the utilities were paid, certainly the cell phone because that was our lifeline for him,” said Shareef Mustafa, Hive volunteer. “We wanted to make sure that their repatriation to the United States was not filled with the same anxiety as when they arrived in 2017.”
And good news arrived on Monday morning – with the Kashefi family sharing photos from Doha, Qatar. They were out of Afghanistan safe and sound.
“Bashir confirmed that they all slept well last night for the first time in a long time,” Felt said.
The family’s return to Southern California and their home in Anaheim, however, is still unclear. It will likely cost additional money and effort from the volunteers, who hope to see Kashefi in the United States soon.