Evacuees who fled Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover are working to adjust to their new lives and new realities in the United States.
More than 60,000 Afghans have begun to resettle in the U.S. as part of “Operation Allies Welcome.” Eight military bases across the country are housing the evacuees. CBS News was given access to Fort McCoy in Wisconsin, which is currently hosting the largest group of Afghan evacuees.
About 12,600 Afghan evacuees are living at Fort McCoy right now. About half are children who are adjusting by taking English classes, crafting art projects,and playing soccer.
There are challenges, but also gratitude and hope for families getting their chance at achieving the American dream.
19-year-old Sultana Amani arrived in the U.S. in late August with her family after fleeing Afghanistan.
“I was happy there but when the Taliban came we were in danger,” Amani told CBS News’ Nancy Chen.
Sultana’s father, Mohammad Amani, spent 40 years as an artist, weaving and selling carpets. Sultana said her father made a carpet for someone in the U.S. embassy who sent them a letter and pictures of his carpet in the White House. She said he became known as being an ally of foreigners and that’s why the family had to leave.
Mohammad says he feels sadness when he thinks about what the family left behind.
“I worked for 40 years, and seeing everything go to waste, seeing the kids, the women, going everything backward, I feel really bad. I feel sad about it,” he said.
But along with despair, there is the drive to make a difference back home.
“I hope in the future, I change something, people like Taliban, I hope to change them,” Sultana said.
“So you don’t just want to change life here, you want to change life in Afghanistan in the future,” Chen asked.
“There is hope,” Sultana said.
Her mom, Khadija Rahimi, dreams of their family giving back to the country that took them in.
“I’m very happy to be here — that my kids are here. They will have a bright future, and I hope future they will make this place an even better place.,” Khadija said.
“What do you hope for at the end of all this?” Chen asked.
“I want peace. I just don’t want only peace for my own family that we’re in the U.S. I want peace and security for my Afghans who are there who were left behind,” Mohammad tearfully said.
The Amani family is expected to resettle elsewhere in the U.S., but the timeline for that is unclear.