Immigration Story That Starts in Kabul Leads to Resettling Others

Zohal Masodi

A year ago, she was working for the State Department in Afghanistan. Today, she’s helping other Afghan refugees make their homes in the U.S.

On this World Refugees Day, I wish welfare, health, safety, and happiness for all refugees and everyone around the world.

I am one of those refugees. Today, I live in Woodbridge, VA, but I am from Kabul Afghanistan. I was raised there, and it’s where I completed my Bachelor of Science in psychology, and where I worked for many years as a clinical psychologist, translator, administrative assistant, teacher and as a security investigator.

My immigration story begins when our jobs at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul stopped, and when Afghanistan fell to the Taliban on August 15, 2021. At the time, I was an active U.S. Embassy employee with the State Department and was serving as a Foreign Service National and Translator with the Regional Security Office at U.S. Embassy compound in Kabul.

Zohal Masodi in Virginia.

By the time Afghanistan began to fall I, along with my colleagues at the U.S. Embassy, began to hear from the deputy prime minister’s office that we employees, along with our immediate family members, would be getting permission to evacuate, by way of the Kabul airport. The letter we received mentioned only immediate family members. Parents and siblings were not mentioned for evacuation purposes, in fact, they were excluded. While I knew that my mother and my one sister needed me, I am a rule follower. I have never had, and never will have, the courage to break rules or laws. So, it would be just me evacuating.

On the morning of August 15 I woke to find an email from the embassy, as well as a stream of text messages from colleagues that I’d missed overnight. Already, they had begun to leave. 

In the days before the fall, the embassy had told us to be prepared. Evacuation could happen at any moment. So, I was already packed and ready to go. That morning, I left the house for the airport, ready to evacuate the country all alone. 

The trip definitely caused some concern. Because of my sensitive work, I’d had access to classified communications. I knew that, if my mobiles were breached or I was stopped and someone found communications from certain people on me, I could be in trouble. So, before I left for the airport, I destroyed papers and documents, emails from certain people, and certificates I had received. Any sensitive information, I destroyed. 

My evacuation was faster and smoother than many of those that followed. I was among the lucky ones: I got notification that I could evacuate early on. I was at the airport early and left early, without much waiting. 

Those of us who evacuated last August went all over the world, and even all over the United States. My first stop, in fact, was in Germany. Then, fortunately for me, I was evacuated to Virginia.

That’s where I live now, and where several of my siblings who have also received Special Immigration Visas now also live. I am so grateful that I live along with my siblings in a peaceful environment. I am so appreciative, too, of the U.S. government’s patience and assistance towards all refugees during those tough times of our evacuation and the resettlement process, and how they handled the humanitarian crisis of refugees.

I’m also grateful that, today, I am able to help with the resettlement of other Afghan refugees. 

Zohal Masodi and other Greyshirts with U.S. State Department Undersecretary Liz Allen during her visit honor of World Refugees Day.

When I first arrived here, I used my education and began working as a behavioral therapist. Then, one day, I learned from the U.S. State Department about an opportunity to work with Team Rubicon. Today, I am serving with this veteran-led nonprofit, assisting it with the administrative side of resettling other Afghan refugees in and around Silver Springs, MD.

It’s a great honor for me, and I am so glad to be working with Team Rubicon, responding to humanitarian crises and helping meet humanitarian needs. All of this also relates to my educational field, too. As a refugee from Afghanistan, it makes me proud to serve humanity here in the United States. I am so grateful and honored to be a part of this mission. 

I wish you all every blessing, and a happy World Refugees Day.

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