KIRO-7: Family members caught in Afghanistan turmoil returning to Seattle

Sept 1st, 2021

Author: Graham Johnson

See in: KIRO-7 News

SEATTLE — A Seattle-area family prepared Wednesday to be reunited after three family members narrowly escaped the crisis in Afghanistan.

The Taliban took over a day before they were scheduled to fly out of Kabul, leading relatives and friends to scramble to help them get out.

“So many things happened, and it’s just been in a disaster,” said Abdulwahab Ahmadi, who was waiting to see his wife, mother, and 9-year-old sister.

In despair, he was planning to go to Afghanistan from Seattle, without a plan to leave, just to be with them.

“I was hopeless, but hope came from somewhere I wasn’t really expecting,” Ahmadi said.

The source of that hope was the Refugee Artisan Initiative, which helps women resettling in Seattle find work sewing.

“There’s one universal language, that is sewing,” said Executive Director Ming-Ming Tung-Edelman.

Ahmadi’s mother, Diba, was working with RAI before she brought her daughter to Afghanistan in early August to attend a wedding.

They planned to bring home Ahmadi’s wife, who was waiting for a visa two years after their wedding.

Diba is beloved at RAI.

“Our entire team felt we had to take action,” Tung-Edelman said.

They contacted Reps. Pramila Jayapal and Kim Schrier, sharing how Diba sewed thousands of masks during the pandemic and recently started making medical scrubs.

“We had to do something. We had to get her out,” said RAI Sewing Coordinator Brittany Forney.

All the efforts paid off.

Their plane took off hours before last week’s attack at the Kabul airport.

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