COLORADO SPRINGS — UPDATE: Congressman Doug Lamborn issued a statement Friday saying in part his office "has been working around the clock with numerous individuals trying to secure safe passage for those the Biden Administration recklessly left behind."
Congressman Lamborn says he will not release any specific individuals or instances to protect the safety of Americans and SIVs.
ORIGINAL STORY: As the world watches the aftershock of the U.S. exit from Afghanistan, thousands of Afghan citizens are trying to leave the country, fearing what Taliban rule could bring.
Sayed Hamid has been living in Colorado for around a month with his wife and young son. He told News5 he was born and raised in Afghanistan, where he got a job with the U.S. Embassy in 2014. Hamid obtained a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV), and said he moved to America because he and his family were in danger due to his job.
Hamid said he feels safe and wonderful in Colorado, but at the same time, feels awful that many members of his family are still in Afghanistan. His message to his family is "be strong." Hamid said he will try every way he can to get them to the U.S.
According to Hamid, the Taliban is going house-to-house trying to find anyone who has worked or associated with Americans. He hopes the U.S. government will help his family get to safety.
Sohaila Fariyar fled Afghanistan and moved to the U.S. in 2014 with an SIV. She said her involvement with international organizations put herself and her family in danger. Fariyar fled with her husband and son at the time, but still has many loved ones in Afghanistan. "To be honest, I am just shocked, and my mind is crazed, because I have family members back home and all my friends... I really love all my family and I really hope that I can do something for them," said Fariyar.
"I can't watch the news anymore. It's just too upsetting."
Born in Afghanistan, Lena Nisar has lived in the U.S. for about 28 years. Nisar said ever since the news broke about the withdraw of American forces from Afghanistan, she has been watching the coverage closely and is too worried to sleep. "Our country went through that 20 years ago. And, all that horror and all the feelings that we had from before it all came back," said Nisar.
Nisar said she has around 15 family members who are still in Afghanistan. She said it is challenging to speak with them. "They don't have electricity, or sometimes no internet service. So, it's hard to reach them sometimes, and it's gut-wrenching... They don't know anything because there's no media, there's no news, so they're kind of keeping them in the dark," said Nisar.
Nisar, Fariyar, and Hamid said they are dedicated to getting their loved ones out of Afghanistan. "Just help the people of Afghanistan. They're innocent. They are the ones who are suffering the most," said Nisar.
Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains (LFSRM) is a non-profit agency that helps resettle refugees and other eligible populations in a handful of communities, including Colorado Springs. Brittney Carroll Hatcher is a case coordinator at LFSRM, and works in the refugee and asylee program. She said LFSRM helps individuals with housing, employment, language barriers, and much more to integrate them into Colorado Springs life. "We are anticipating that we'll see a number of people in Colorado as a result of the evacuation, and so we are preparing for that, but we don't yet have a date or specific numbers," said Carroll Hatcher.
She said right now, LFSRM is serving around 100 cases in Colorado Springs, and not all of those are from Afghanistan.
As LFSRM prepares for an influx of people because of the withdraw of American forces, they said one of the best ways to help their organization is through financial donations. Carroll Hatcher said those donations can be specifically allocated to certain causes.
Carroll Hatcher also said it's never too early to start the volunteer process for LFSRM. She said the training sessions for the volunteer program are typically held online on the first Tuesday of the month.
Those with LFSRM said they are always looking for new partners willing to rent apartments or homes to refugees. LFSRM also works with businesses to hire refugees when they first arrive.