Out of Afghanistan: Edmonton-area man trying to help family flee Kabul

·2 min read
Spencer Sekyer taught at a school in Kabul in summer 2010 where he met the couple he's now trying to get help flee Afghanistan.  (Submitted by Spencer Sekyer - image credit)
Spencer Sekyer taught at a school in Kabul in summer 2010 where he met the couple he's now trying to get help flee Afghanistan. (Submitted by Spencer Sekyer - image credit)

An Edmonton-area man is trying to help a family he met 10 years ago flee Afghanistan as the Taliban takes over the country.

Spencer Sekyer managed to assist in getting visas for Naveed, Mashala and their three children to enter the United States.

CBC has agreed to protect the couple's last name for security purposes.

"They're basically hiding in Kabul right now," Sekyer, a recently retired teacher who worked for Elk Island Schools for more than 25 years, told CBC News in an interview Friday.

"So when the Americans give them the signal it's 'go time,' they've got to get from their house where they're hiding to the airport," Sekyer said. "They've got to get through the city."

When the Taliban began encroaching on the western-backed Afghanistan government, Naveed reached out to Sekyer for help.

Submitted by Spencer Sekyer
Submitted by Spencer Sekyer

Sekyer met the couple during his summer break in 2010 when he was teaching at the school where they worked in Kabul.

There was no question Sekyer was willing to help when Naveed got in touch with him a few weeks ago.

"You step up, you help your friends," he said.

Sekyer had Naveed on the phone during part of the interview, at which time, Naveed told CBC News that he and his family don't leave the house.

"It's not safe for me, and my wife as well," Naveed said. "Schools are off and we just hide in the home."

They get provisions dropped off by a relative or friend, he said, and that the whole family is frightened.

Submitted by Spencer Sekyer
Submitted by Spencer Sekyer

"If you go outside, there's a lot of Taliban fighters," he said. "They have machine guns."

Several months ago, Naveed said Mashala was targeted when a member of the Taliban threw boiling water on her face as she was leaving the school, where they taught girls.

Through a connection at the U.S. State Department, Sekyer said he managed to get the family visas into the United States.

"Maybe it's just having the luck of knowing someone within the American state department," he said.

Sekyer said he filled out a form with Canada Immigration but didn't hear back so he went through the U.S. channels.

He doesn't know exactly when the family will be picked up, but he's staying in touch directly with his contact.

"Just make sure Naveed that you got small bags packed, because this could happen very quickly," Sekyer told his friend over the phone.

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