MILPITAS, Calif. - A family from Milpitas considers themselves extremely lucky after evacuating from Afghanistan before last Thursday’s suicide bombing attack. The family spent five days attempting to fly out of Kabul and 31 hours on the tarmac with two young kids. They are worried about other family members who haven't made it out.
Sultan Mansoor took photos of thousands of people at Kabul Airport as he and his family were trying to leave Afghanistan during the Taliban takeover.
"We never imagined it could happen," said Mansoor.
Mansoor had arrived in the United States in June 2017 on a Special Immigration Visa and called Milpitas home. In June, he, his wife, his 7-year-old daughter, and 3-year-old son left for Afghanistan to visit Mansoor’s mother who was seriously ill. His family tried to leave Afghanistan mid-August and was met with violence.
"My brother was wounded there, they attacked my father, he's also wounded," said Mansoor. "Somehow God helped us and we made it."
Only Mansoor, his wife and children made it to the United States. They traveled to Pakistan, Turkey, the Netherlands, and New York. Rep. Ro Khanna’s office assisted them.
"It was very difficult but we didn’t have any other choice," said Mansoor. "I am very worried about my parents and siblings, they are left behind at home."
"I would say 20 to 30 people are contacting me per hour looking for ways out of the country," said Mizgon Zahir Darby of the Afghan Coalition.
The Afghan Coalition is flooded with similar stories of families hoping to be Bay-Area bound. The coalition said right now, there is no safe way out. It’s filling out Visa applications and writing to Congress in an effort to help those in Afghanistan with food and money.
"We cannot stop trying," said Darby. "If we’ve learned any lessons, Afghanistan are survivalists in a lot of ways."
Mansoor is desperate to get his parents out of Kabul. "The most important thing in our lives is our parents, without parents I am nothing," said Mansoor.
The Afghan Coalition estimates 200 refugees have moved and settled in the East Bay. It’s helping them with housing and financial services. If you’d like to help, the Afghan Coalition is looking for volunteers to fill out Visa applications and financial donations.