Watch Halima and Iqbal's story
“I was in Afghanistan alone with my two daughter and it was very hard…
“When everything fell down, and the Taliban took over Kabul, I was in Afghanistan alone with my two daughters and it was very hard,” said Halima. “Everything was totally changed, and we saw the flags of the Taliban on the rooftops and everywhere.”
Halima and her two daughters waited in Kabul to be evacuated for 2 perilous months.
“When I left we were happy because we were going to escape the Taliban regime, but, there are a lot of women in Afghanistan and a lot of girls like mine. And when I left Kabul, that was the hardest day. I left and I said I can do nothing,” said Halima.
Feeling helpless, Halima and her daughters evacuated to Qatar. Later, staying in Germany. Finally, to Minnesota to reunite with Halima’s husband, already in St. Cloud through the Fulbright Program.
“The hardest thing for refugees in a new country is you don’t know many people, you’re not familiar with the culture, you cannot make connections with people, so you’re just on your own, and it’s real hard,” said Iqbal.
Arrive Ministries provided household items, and staff helped Iqbal and Halima get settled. Arrive Ministries connected them with a volunteer couple through our Good Neighbor program, Dennis and Denise.
“Denise and Dennis came to our house and they welcomed us very warmly and very kindly, so I feel on that day that they are good people and we can make friends with them,” said Halima.
I love that term good neighbor, I see it as coming alongside and doing life…
“I love that term good neighbor, I see it as coming alongside and doing life with,” said Denise.
“Iqbal and Halima have given us the privilege to step into their life; that’s what we see that good neighbor being, that ability to allow them to step into our lives and us to step into theirs,” said Dennis.
“When we first started getting together it was more a question of ‘What are Halima’s needs?’ She needs to get to the grocery store, she needs to do some shopping, some of those practical things. Then, it just developed more into a friendship,” said Denise.
I would love to have an American father and mother…
“When it was my birthday Dennis said that you are a kind of a daughter for me and I say that yeah I want to, I would love to have an American father and mother,” said Halima.
When the Taliban killed 50 young women taking their college entrance exams, a half a world away, Iqbal and Halima gathered Denise, Dennis and St. Cloud community members to stand in vigil for the women and the Hazara people.
“It hurts a lot and we know it is our responsibility here in America to make aware of friends that we are from that (ethnic) group and we are targeted, and as a woman, we are targeted in Afghanistan,” said Halima.
I feel guilty sometimes, like you’re here, you’re safe but how about other people?
“I feel guilty sometimes, like you know, like you’re here, you’re safe but how about other people? You could’ve been there in that situation,” said Iqbal.
“We have not had to deal with even a fraction of what they have and I am just so impressed and so blessed by their genuineness, their openness, and their willingness to be real with us and share their story,” said Denise.
“I think it’s the start of something that can be a forever thing. (I hope) that they have all the opportunities and blessings that we’ve lived with all our life that we’ve taken for granted, that they now have opportunity because they’re here,” said Dennis.
“I dream for my daughter that they can do whatever they really want as a human being,” said Halima.
My dream for my daughters is they have a better future, a better life here…
“My dream for my daughters is they have a better future, a better life here, be able to go to university and pursue whatever they want to,” said Iqbal. “I feel really happy for my daughters that this is a free country.”
Watch a bonus interview with Iqbal and Halima about the treatment of the Hazara people and women in Afghanistan.