GIOVANNO DEL’ORTH and MARIAM FAM – The Associated Press
LAS CRUSES, New Mexico (AP) – Sitting with his legs crossed on the floor as his wife and six children laid fruit plates on a red cloth in front of him, Valayat Khan Samadzoi watched through the open balcony door behind a fragment of the new moon. will appear in the cloudless skies of New Mexico, where the sun has set over a desert mountain.
Then, wanting to meet, the former Afghan soldier with a magnificent beard broke his first post in Ramadan in the United States – not from the Taliban threat, but from three dozen relatives with whom he would celebrate the beginning of the Muslim holy month if he were still at home in Hosta, Afghanistan.
A few minutes after Naan was immersed in a bowl of stewed okra and beans, Samadzo, his wife and two older children retired on prayer rugs. On Saturday night, the two-bedroom apartment was filled with whispers of their appeals.
“I pray for them, and they pray for me, they miss me,” he said of his relatives at home. His cousin Nur Rahman Fakir, who is also now in Las Cruces, translated from Pashto into plain English, which he learned while working with US forces in Afghanistan.
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As they adapted to new communities, Afghan families were evacuated to the United States The Taliban regained power last summer celebrate Ramadan with gratitude for their safety. However, there is also the agony of being away from loved ones who, they fear, are in danger under the leadership of the Taliban, who are developing increasingly repressive orders.
From metropolitan areas with booming Afghan diasporas to this desert university community less than 40 miles (64 kilometers) from the Mexican border, tens of thousands of newly arrived Afghans share one overwhelming concern that is growing during the holiday season: only temporary immigration status and low-paying jobs, they feel helpless to take care of their families here and at home.
Abdul Amir Karizada repeatedly repeated the exact moment, 16:30, when he was ordered to fly out of Kabul airport during the chaos of the evacuation – before he had a wife and five children, who are still in Afghanistan more than seven months later.
“I’m worried that the plane is safe, but my family is not safe,” said the former flight engineer after Friday prayers at the only mosque in Las Cruces, where he rides a bicycle to find some “peace.”
Like 28-year-old Kais Sharifi, who says he can’t sleep from caring for his remaining children, including his daughter, who was born two months after he fled Afghanistan alone.
Both men smile when the director of education of the Rajao Shindi Mosque, a professor at a neighboring Iraqi-born University of New Mexico, invites them to sign up for free Iftar dinners held every night in the meeting hall decorated with golden balls with the inscription Rada. – Arabic greeting is often used to wish people a happy Ramadan.
Local congregations, such as the Mosque and the El Calvadio United Methodist Church in Las Cruces, as well as Jewish and Christian organizations that relocate refugees through their national networks, are helping Afghans find housingwork, English-language classes and schools for their children.
They condemn the fact that most displaced Afghan families do not have permanent legal status in the United States, despite the fact that they deserved the U.S. government, the military, or their Afghan allies during the post-9/11 war in Afghanistan. This would give them access to many government benefits and an easier way to work and reunite the family.
While in Afghanistan decades of war and current food shortages mean much less extravagant holidays than in many countries where Ramadan is celebrated, familiar tastes of home are a staple for many displaced this year. Karizada remembers his mother’s signature holiday dish – balani, fried stuffing like a giant samosa.
Shirkhan Nejat’s mother still cries every time a 27-year-old boy makes a video call to WhatsApp from Oklahoma City, where he was relocated with his wife and a child was born to the couple. The grief over his friendly large family in Ramadan evokes “bad emotions,” Nejat said, despite gratitude for security.
It is such connections, the warmth of large family gatherings around iftar food, and the cacophony of familiar species, sounds, and smells that mark the end of daytime fasting, which many in America crave.
In Texas, David Formula misses his typical family’s pre-diphtheria routine: his hungry father angrily asks him to eat. His mother asks her husband to calm down, and Formula, 34, tells an anecdote to cheer up and make his father laugh. His children, in another room with their many cousins, then played, then fought. “Allahu Akbar”, a call to prayer, which comes from the mosque on the street.
“Every day is like Christmas,” said a former translator at the US Embassy in Kabul about the past Ramadan in a three-story house where his family lived with their parents, siblings and their families.
In his new apartment in Fort Worth, the call to prayer now comes from the program, not the minaret.
The transition was especially difficult for his pregnant wife, who is still studying English. However, in their new community there are traces of an acquaintance: Muslim neighbors, mosques for special prayers during Ramadan, known as “tarawih”, and halal food markets.
Khayal Mohammad Sultani, who on the eve of Ramadan was still living in a long-stay motel on the outskirts of El Paso, Texas, had to drive nearly 80 miles (128 kilometers) to New Mexico by taxi to buy and butcher a lamb on Ramadan.
The 37-year-old ex-soldier, his wife Nur Bibi and six of their children solved the second day with pieces of this lamb stewed in fragrant sauce, around one table in his duplex, recently built on a barren plot in front of the mountains, unlike them. a house in Gardez, with its apple and pomegranate trees.
Immediately after the iftar, the four children prepared for their first day of school the next morning, another new excitement for parents who had never received a formal education.
But when it comes to faith, Sultani will continue to teach his children at home, as his father did for him.
Three older children – a boy, 11 years old, and two girls, 9 and 8 years old, with red handkerchiefs loosely laid on long braids, pray in turn on the green carpet, which is one of the most precious treasures of the family.
The Koran family came from a military base in New Jersey, where they first landed in the United States. But Sultani’s father brought this rug from his pilgrimage to Mecca after another son was killed by the Taliban, a possible fate they avoided by crossing many checkpoints when fleeing Afghanistan last summer.
“We are Muslims, and part of our faith is to thank Allah for everything,” Sultani said of the gift through a volunteer translator. “As a thank you to him, we’re doing it.”
Fam reported from Cairo. Bobby Ross Jr. contributed from Oklahoma City.
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