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‘I hope my family is still alive’: Redmond residents seek to get relatives out of Afghanistan

'There's an emptiness that we cannot describe, and it's just sad.'

REDMOND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Haseeb Shojai carries on with his day-to-day life as a father, business owner and community member in Central Oregon. But he's also been carrying the weight of his family's and friends' well-being.

That's because Shojai has several loved ones who live in Afghanistan.

An immigrant himself, Shojai came to the United States from Afghanistan in 2004. Now, he owns several gas stations, restaurants, and bars in Central Oregon , including the Silver Leaf Cafe and Market in Eagle Crest.

While he's doing well, he says he has nightmares about what's happening over there.

"There is an emptiness that we cannot describe, and it's just sad," Shojai said Tuesday. "We are sad, and we are trying to do everything we can to help our family and our friends -- but as people, we can only do so much."

He says his family and friends are in hiding, fearing the Taliban will find them, or worse, kill them for disagreeing with their fundamentalist beliefs.

"Every so often, we are reminded that, okay so I don't know where my cousin is right now and if they're okay," Shojai said. "And that's constantly, constantly on your mind."

Shojai says while his loved ones have the papers and supporting documents to leave Afghanistan, they don't have access to any of their money, because all banks are closed.

Moe Aria also moved to the United States from Afghanistan. He's been living in Central Oregon for more than 30 years, doing business with Shojai.

His family is in the same situation.

"Always something on the mind. Anything -- any incoming call, I hope is some good news." Aria said.

"I hope my family is still alive. I hope they are still in good hands. But it's really, really, really sad."

In 2018, Shojai's parents left Afghanistan to join their son in the U.S.

His mother, Gullay, lived through four different Afghan regimes. She was once an elementary school teacher, but was forced to retire when the Taliban first took control of the country in the '90s.

Gullay says life in Central Oregon is different than in Kabul, but that the biggest change was the community.

"Most importantly -- the people. The amount of respect, kindness, from neighbors, from friends, from people that cannot pronounce her name, was what actually got her attention." Haseeb translated for his mother.

Shojai agrees with his mom.

"In the past week, I have got more messages and calls and text messages and emails from friends who are worried about my cousins, and my family and my friends in Afghanistan than ever before," he said.

Right now, Shojai is working on sending his loved ones' documents to the right agencies, in hopes of getting them a ticket out of the country.

Shojai told NewsChannel 21 he wants to raise awareness about what's going on in Afghanistan, and that he needs help submitting his friends' and family's documents to area agencies.

To reach Shojai, you can send him an email at haseebshojai@msn.com.

Author Profile Photo

Carly Keenan

Carly Keenan is a multimedia journalist and producer for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Carly here.

Comments

34 Comments

  1. Just remember Biden says there is no other to withdraw and he has no regrets about his decision. He also flip flops about whether or not this was the expected outcome going from “no way” to “I don’t remember what they told me”.

  2. It’s Trumps fault I’m sure, even though he isn’t in office he will get the blame. The left will never take ownership on the disaster in Afghanistan. Since when does America let the taliban dictate what is going to happen?? Our people are over there and everything needs to be done to get them home. I actually read a comment here yesterday that someone actually admitted to voting for Biden! Are you serious? To hate someone that much that you vote to put this loser in office Its pathetic and really shows your true colors of hatred. There has never been a sitting president that has had his son do the things that hunter has done and this is acceptable? You leftist have no rebuttal here, so save your pathetic validation for this moron that is ruining this country.

    1. The Democrats aren’t worried because they have the main stream media to carry Biden’s water even with the rest of the world crashing down on him. Journalistic malfeasance at it’s worst.

    2. Holy crap, this is some raw and unfiltered stupidity from you.

      “It’s Trumps fault I’m sure, even though he isn’t in office he will get the blame.”

      –The Trump administration in February 2020 negotiated a withdrawal agreement with the Taliban that excluded the Afghan government.

      https://www.factcheck.org/2021/08/timeline-of-u-s-withdrawal-from-afghanistan/

      “The left will never take ownership on the disaster in Afghanistan.”

      — Literally started by George W. Bush, I guess he is a leftist now in your mind? Why should the left take ownership for a GOP started and funded war?

      “Since when does America let the taliban dictate what is going to happen?? ”

      –Since Trump negotiated with them directly and excluded the Afghan gov’t in Feb 2020 (first link also proves this)

      “Our people are over there and everything needs to be done to get them home.”

      –Americans are already home, I’m assuming you’re talking about the Refugees that Trump put a muslim immigration ban on? He banned Afghani refugees with that order, and everyone else that helped US troops that isn’t a US citizen. Are you stupid?

      “I actually read a comment here yesterday that someone actually admitted to voting for Biden!”

      –Most people with a semblance of intelligence did actually. A majority of the country, unlike for Trump ever.

      “To hate someone that much that you vote to put this loser in office Its pathetic and really shows your true colors of hatred.”

      –That’s exactly what drove you floor licking imbeciles to elect Trump since you all continue to have Obama Derangement Syndrome.

      “There has never been a sitting president that has had his son do the things that hunter has done and this is acceptable?”

      –No we’ve had an actual president who did far worse things just last term. Cheated on his wife, payments to prostitutes, but I’m sure that doesn’t do the tick for you.

      “You leftist have no rebuttal here”

      Oh, you don’t need to be a leftist to refute your deranged drivvel.

      “so save your pathetic validation for this moron that is ruining this country.”

      I thought we were talking about the withdrawl from Afghanistan you over-animated hyperbolic cry baby?

      1. Oops. you forgot THE FACT that Joe Biden is president. Every single bit of this was his own doing. but go ahead and blame everyone else if it helps you sleep better. “Poor old Joe. He undid everything Trump did but he was outwitted by the bad orangeman and some 7th century Taliban fighters on this solitary issue.”

        1. I blamed both but it’s not like you’re interested in actually getting to the bottom of anything you pathetic partisan hack.

          I’m guessing you’re one of the naive morons that thinks that the Taliban was gonna honor whatever deal they made with Trump. Not surprising, you stupid yokels will believe anything Trump tells you.

          Hell half of you imbeciles think the Taliban was responsible for 9/11. It’s absolutely flabbergasting how incredibly stupid you Trump supporters are. Even contemporary history shoots right over your head for your partisan idiotic drivel.

  3. This gentleman is the perfect example of the opportunities available here in the US – good job. He arrived legally 18 years ago and now owns several businesses – critical race theory be damned. Wonder how the racists pushing the race theory are trying to explain that? Interesting that the same opportunities that he worked hard to earn were available to all of us but the rest of us chose not to work as hard as he did. And those opportunities were available to all of us, no matter what color our skin is, as he has proven.

    1. “He arrived legally 18 years ago and now owns several businesses – critical race theory be damned.”

      Yeah just ignore that he would not have been allowed to immigrate to the US the last 4 years because of Trump’s travel ban on Afghanistani citizens even though there has never been a terror attack on US soil from an Afghan citizen.

      Do you literally have the memory of a goldfish or do you forget Trump pushing the travel ban in 2017 and appointing a ton of federal judges to positions that upheld his travel ban? Why was Afghanistan included when it clearly prohibits the translators on the ground over there and facilitated this tragedy to occur? I’m shocked that someone like you wouldn’t know these very recent orders that your favorite reality TV show president instated.

      Actually I’m not shocked. Trump voters are the dumbest people I’ve ever seen in the US and I despise your disgustingly stupid ilk. You and people like you are the real virulent plague afflicting this country. By and large, you’re violently stupid people that only know how to fight along tribal lines and are specialists in ignoring the shortcomings and mistakes of your own belligerently stupid and close minded decision making process.

      Owned.

      1. You are a liar! His mom left Afghanistan 2 years ago! Why the lies? The truth must be difficult for you!

        The Worse part for me is this is personal! He and More are friends of mine! They have helped more people in Central Oregon that are marginalized or struggling to find work, along with homeless folks than any group, agency, or loudmouth that has ever posted here! And for you and your Republican pals (no difference between a Dem & a Repub) to use their families’ plight as part of your nonsense is sickening! But what else should we expect from Whitey!!

        1. Then why does the article say 18 years ago you blubbering imbecile? Not surprising you guys make up whatever insanity suits you. I won’t even acknowledge the rest of your delusional rant since you can’t get over basic facts in the headlines. Go learn to read, idiot.

            1. This is from the article Mr. Moderator. He needs to apologize to the family.

              In 2018, Shojai’s parents left Afghanistan to join their son in the U.S.

      2. It is hard to argue with you as you apparently believe everything CNN told you to believe. You don’t present relevant facts and certainly don’t incorporate them into any of your arguments. Finally, you are projecting your ignorance onto so called Trump supporters, as if everyone who is conservative thinks alike. That seems to be more true of the left. Just recently Trump advocating for the vaccine and he was booed. Sorry, but conservatives think for themselves and don’t accept being infantilized.

      1. HE spreads lies and didn’t read the article! The mother left in 2018! He and Moe are great people! Quit using their families to indulge your trolling!

      2. His thought is to make up a lie and say he got here in 2018 even though the article and the quotes from the gentleman indicate 18 years ago.

        He has literally nothing so he has to make up this lie to make himself feel smart. He’s an idiot and if he has to lie immediately, the conversation is clearly over.

        I wish I could say it felt good or was difficult to outwit a Trump supporter, but honestly it would be more impressive if I outsmarted a dog.

  4. It’s now officially a pattern. Republican president makes plans to exit a war during the next president’s term. Next president executes the plan. And then suddenly all the commenters are against it. Clockwork.

  5. Those of us who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and made many friends in both countries, pray for the safety of your family.

    Thank you for speaking out on this terrible betrayal –

  6. Considering that Trump started the withdrawal 17 months ago – paperwork should have been started then. You don’t wait until the last minute. I know that Trump put a ban on things while he was in office, but when Biden got elected they should have at least started trying.

    1. There’s enough blame to go around for both administrations on this one. Both the plan (Trump) and execution (Biden) were terrible.

      But don’t act like we could bring more refugees over when Trump imposed an immigration ban and appointed the most conservative judges he could find to back it. The GOP whackjobs don’t get to complain that we didn’t take refugees when they literally banned refugees from Afghanistan from entering the US.

      1. Oh, I haven’t forgotten about the Visa restrictions and refusal to allow more refugees in. However, the State Department has sent 19 requests to Americans in Afghanistan to leave since May. They should already be gone, not playing the victim. Trump gave Afghanistan to the Taliban – we need to just get out now

  7. Thank you, KTVZ, for this article. My heart goes out to the local families with relatives in the region who are missing and/or suffering. I sincerely hope they are all able to escape and reunite with family.

    Politics aside, these members of our community – our family – are hurting. Can’t we put aside all the fighting and give comfort to our community during this time?

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