ST. LOUIS – One year after Kabul fell to Taliban rule, local refugees from Afghanistan reflect on their struggle to get to the U.S. and what creating a new life has been like so far from home.

Haseeb was an interpreter in Afghanistan for the United States military for 10 years. He paved the way for Afghan families after Kabul fell to resettle in St. Louis as he did himself back in 2017.

“These guys are lucky, it’s easier for them because I’m here and some other Afghans are here,” Haseeb said. “The Americans that helped me in the past now, they also know what these guys need too.”

Haseeb has a business called MQA Renovations LLC. He has given work to more than 15 refugees but he said there are 74 more families they’re trying to help flee that are still stuck abroad.

“People are not making money to feed their family, so it’s very hard for us,” Haseeb said. “Our families come to our eyes, we see them hungry so how can we eat here.”

Yama Rasooli and his family were new to St. Louis only a few months after they fled Kabul.

“My daughter and my son are learning English, speak with the teacher and it’s better from last year,” Rasooli said.

Rasooli said he is also learning English at his two jobs.

“I support my family in Afghanistan every monthly,” Rasooli said.

Fraidoon Wafa worked for the United States military. He moved to St. Louis three months ago with his wife and four children.

“I’m very happy being here, working in America, living in America. My kids are under the peace and freedom and especially that my daughter can go to school,” Wafa said.

Wafa said it took them six months to get to the U. S. after his daughter’s passport was destroyed and they had to get a new one. He and others are trying to help more families from Afghanistan to obtain the same freedom they now have.

“I just hope to see Afghanistan free again,” Haseeb said.

The U. S. Department of State officials came to St. Louis to get an update on Afghan immigrants who resettled here with the help of The International Institute of St. Louis and ten other organizations.

They aimed to help others that plan to come in the future.