This family was torn apart in Kabul. A year later, they are still not back together

“I didn’t know how to get back to the airport,” Masi said. “It was not easy for me.”

When he and his father, Ahmad Wali Stanekzai, arrived at Kabul International Airport in April, they were flooded with bad memories of eight months earlier, when the whole family had joined the crowds in a desperate attempt to leave Afghanistan after the fall of the capital. Taliban.

Then there was the explosion — an ISIL-K suicide bombing. The family was separated in the chaos. His mother was killed; he and his father were separated from his two younger siblings, who were injured.

Today, more than four months after arriving in Qatar from Afghanistan, and more than a year after that deadly attack, the family is still not reunited.

“I feel so overwhelmed when I remember how we broke up and lost our mother,” Masi said.

“I went through the worst trauma as a kid,” he told CNN via text message. “I need my freedom. I want my brother and my sister back. I want to live in my house with the rest of my family.”

The rest of his family lives in Virginia. Her siblings, Faisal, 14, and Mina, 8, were eventually cared for by their aunt Ferishta Stanekzai after being separated from their parents in the blast last August. Mina and Faisal, along with a neighbour, traveled to the airport and on a plane to Germany, where they were treated for their injuries at Landstuhl Hospital before coming to the United States, where they also treated at Walter Reed Medical Center outside of Washington. , CC.

The past year, and the past month in particular, have been difficult for the family in Virginia, Ferishta said.

Both children are still working through the trauma they experienced. Mina regularly has nightmares, tantrums and has sometimes begged to go to Qatar to be with her father and brother, her aunt told CNN.

“Sometimes she asks a lot of questions about her mother – why she was killed and why no one helped her,” Ferishta said.

It has also been difficult for Ferishta, as she takes care of her nephew and niece, takes care of both their guardianship case and that of her brother and another nephew, and also works on her normal work.

“Dealing with all of this, everything is getting so difficult for me and day by day it is getting so difficult to deal with,” she said.

“Like overnight, I became a single mother without knowing how to enroll the children in school. It all felt like a new experience for me,” Ferishta added.

Mina, who is in third grade, told CNN she loved school. Her favorite subject is physical education. She likes to “jump and run”, and the doctor told her that her leg – which was injured in the Kabul attack – is fine, but sometimes it hurts, she said.

Family members talk every day. Mina tells her older brother and her father that she loves them. Masi hears about their school. He said it makes him happy to see them in their school uniforms.

“I hope I can wear a school uniform soon too,” Masi told CNN.

Ferishta said she wants to see the US government work faster to process the cases, and that she and her family have not gotten clear answers about why her brother and nephew have not yet been able to. come to the United States. She and retired Air Force Lt. Gen. John Bradley, who heads the Lamia Afghan Foundation and works with the family, both told CNN that Ahmad Wali and Masi had filled out forms and had undergone interviews and medical examinations.

“They were just left alone and never given much information,” Bradley said.

“Family needs to be reunited. None of us would think it appropriate to separate people for a year from parents when they’re young children,” Bradley said.

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