They Came To The U.S. As Afghan Refugees. Now They Hope Their Story Will Help Others

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Hossein Mahrammi, his wife, Razia Mahrami, and their four sons came from Kabul to the U.S. on a Special Immigrant Visa or SIV in March 2017.

Marisa Peñaloza


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Marisa Peñaloza


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Hossein Mahrammi and his wife, Razia Mahrami, bought these rugs after they got married in 2003. They are hand-woven by Hazara weavers and the couple brought them in their suitcases from Afghanistan to the U.S. in 2017.

Marisa Peñaloza


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Marisa Peñaloza

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Since the Taliban took over, Hossein and Razia say their phones constantly beep with texts and calls from family and friends in Afghanistan asking for help.

Marisa Peñaloza


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Marisa Peñaloza

Since the Taliban took over, Hossein and Razia say their phones constantly beep with texts and calls from family and friends in Afghanistan asking for help.

Marisa Peñaloza

The family offers some tips for newly arrived refugees

The SIV visa the family came on automatically turned into a green card, allowing each member of the family to become a lawful U.S. permanent resident soon after arriving in the U.S. When the family hits their fifth year residency anniversary come March 2022, they will be eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship. «We’ll apply immediately,» Mahrammi says with a big smile on his face.

After years of juggling multiple jobs, Mahrammi is now a technical advisor for a local nonprofit, Enterprise Development Group, that provides micro loans to low-income individuals.

The Mahrammi kids ages 6 to 17 are all in school and exceling – their English is perfect.

Shahid is a rising junior and says that he doesn’t know what he’ll study in college or what college he’ll attend yet, but he’s certain of one thing, «I’ll have a lot of choices here.»

The family has many plans. The mom dreams of opening an Afghan food restaurant after finishing school and the couple wants to buy a home. Then there is college for the boys who are already thinking about scholarships, «There is a very bright future waiting for us,» Mahrammi says.

He and his wife say that hearing news of the thousands of new refugees arriving in the U.S. stirs hardship memories for them because resettling in a new country can be painful, and even disorienting, they say, it forces people to start from the ground up and it makes you question whether your decision to leave your country was the right one.

They offer some advice for newly arrived refugees.

«Be flexible, be open-minded, take risks,» Mahrammi says. He cautions new refugees to lower their expectations, «It doesn’t matter the type of work you do, just work hard and keep going,» he says. «This is the land of opportunity.»

The couple is helping organize volunteers and donations for the thousands of refuges arriving at Dulles International Airport in Virginia.

  • Afghanistan withdrawal
  • Afghanistan refugees
  • Afghanistan War

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