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Afghan sisters and mother find new home in Saint-Charles six months after escaping Taliban | St. Louis News Headlines

ST. CHARLES (KMOV.com) – The photos are all the ones Fatima and Zahra Nazari have of their life in Afghanistan.

Fatima was a nationally recognized skier, while her sister Zahra helped women start their own businesses in the town market.

“We never thought we had to leave,” Fatima said. “Never.”

In 2019, Zahra was working with her mother at the market when Andy Bass stopped by. Bass, who lives in St. Charles, was in town to acclimatize to the altitude with a friend before an upcoming marathon race.

“He bought rugs and something at the Craft Bazaar, then we made friends on Facebook,” she said.

“She was the nicest, friendliest sales person ever,” Bass said.

The two kept in touch on Facebook for the following years. But last August, when the United States announced its withdrawal from Afghanistan, Taliban fighters began to invade surrounding provinces.

“At first we stayed because I didn’t want to leave,” Zahra said. “I wanted to stay to help with the food and the uniforms and help the army and the people in town.”

She said as the Taliban fighters drew closer, the situation became so dangerous that she had a terrifying conversation with a local military commander.

“He said he would agree to send someone from the military to kill me before the Taliban could get to me,” she said. “Women sold by the Taliban to other countries … it’s horrible.”

Nazari’s four uncles, grandparents and sister have already been killed by the Taliban, Zahra said.

The two sisters and their mother then fled to Kabul, where Bass continued to communicate with them via Facebook. A former US Navy, he was successful in obtaining visas for women. But getting to Kabul airport would prove to be a daunting task.

“We were so afraid that the Taliban would find us where we were,” she said. “We wore burqas and they could only see our eyes. We were at the airport for 10 days and 10 nights trying to get through.”

As the world watched the chaos that ensued outside Kabul airport, Nazari and her family experienced it.

“We were so nervous we couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, we screamed so much,” she said. “We had no one to help us, to save us, it was … it was hell.”

The women eventually made their way to an American serviceman, who examined their documents and let them through. They flew to Germany and eventually reached the United States. After being treated, they were taken to a refugee camp in Indiana where they stayed for about three months.

“Mr. Bass kept talking to us via Facebook and watching us, he brought us clothes, we had nothing,” Zahra said. “He’s a super hero.”

In November, Bass took the three women to his home, where they are now building their new lives. They are in the process of obtaining the necessary papers and identification to find a job and hope to have their own apartment and car.

“We are so lucky, we are now in the United States, we have a great life, I hope,” Fatima said.

Bass said that after hearing what women have been through, he has a new perspective on life.

“When you see people going through what they’ve been through to get here, and when you see people handing babies over to the Marines to get them out of the situation they’re in, that tells you what the America, ”Bass said.

A Go-Fund-Me has been set up to help women get back on their feet. You can donate here.