Family reunited in Tulsa after fleeing Afghanistan but separated by refugee screening process

Dozens of families from Afghanistan have been arriving in the Tulsa area over the last month, fleeing from the crisis in Afghanistan. 

On Saturday, those families were welcomed to an FC Tulsa soccer match and treated to dinner prior to the game, all provided through Food on the Move and FC Tulsa.

Kristy Afshar initially was reluctant to move to Kabul, but her husband, an Afghan citizen, assured her that the city was safe under the American-backed government.

“You’ll be fine,” Faramarz Afshar said. “If you trust me, come.” 

And she did.

“It’s a huge culture shock,” Kristy said. “You have to make some major lifestyle changes.”

But Faramarz was right. She felt safe and found work teaching English.

Seven years later, however, American forces withdrew and the Taliban took control of the capital.

“We locked our doors and didn’t go anywhere,” Kristy said. “People told me, ‘You’re an American woman. They won’t kill you, but they might kidnap you.’ We didn’t know what they would do.”

In late August, the couple rushed to the Kabul airport with their 2-year-old daughter to be flown to the United States. As U.S. citizens, Kristy and her child were allowed to continue on to Tulsa, where she has relatives. But Faramarz had to remain at a refugee camp at a U.S. military base.

Phone calls always ended with their daughter in tears, he said.

“It got to where I didn’t want to call because she would get so upset when we had to hang up,” he said. “And then I would have to cry over here, too.” 

With help from Catholic Charities of Eastern Oklahoma, the family reunited Tuesday afternoon as Faramarz arrived at Tulsa International Airport. The couple will be provided temporary lodging and, eventually, a fully furnished apartment as well as assistance finding jobs, Catholic Charities said.

Meanwhile, Faramarz will be getting acquainted with his new home, admitting Tuesday that he knew only one thing about Tulsa.

“They are here,” he said, pointing to his wife and daughter. “I just want us to be together.”

As the primary refugee resettlement agency for Oklahoma, Catholic Charities has been asked by the U.S. State Department to help relocate 800 Afghan citizens to the Tulsa area. More than 200 have already arrived.

Family reunited in Tulsa after fleeing Afghanistan but separated by refugee screening process | Tulsa World