Fruitland woman says Afghan-American friend and family have escaped Kabul
Ann Marie McCarthy says Najwa Naderi is safe at Germany's Ramstein Air Base
- Naderi and her family apparently were flow out of Kabul late last week.
- Naderi is the in-country manager for Nowzad, an internationally known animal welfare organization.
- Naderi is an Afghan-American citizen and apparently hopes to be reunited with her sister, who lives on Long Island.
FARMINGTON — A Fruitland woman behind an intense effort to help a family trying to flee Afghanistan is a little more relaxed this week after finding out that her friend, an Afghan-American woman in Kabul, was evacuated from the country last week with her husband and child.
Former U.S. Army Reservist Ann Marie McCarthy spent most of last week lobbying U.S. officials to help the woman and her family leave Kabul, where the situation has become chaotic since the fall of the Afghan government and the takeover by the Taliban.
Animal rescue worker Najwa Naderi; Najwa's husband, Mirnais; and their son, Ibrahim, were flown out of the Afghan capital late last week, said McCarthy, a recently retired nurse practitioner who spent six years in the U.S. Army Reserve and decades working for the U.S. Public Health Service.
Najwa Naderi had feared for her safety and that of her family after spending years working as the in-country manager for Nowzad, the internationally known, Kabul-based animal rescue operation founded and led by former British marine commando Pen Farthing.
McCarthy and Naderi became acquainted in 2017 when McCarthy adopted the first of two dogs from the organization, and she and Naderi have maintained their friendship since that time.
McCarthy said she has not had any direct contact with Naderi since receiving an email from her at 3 a.m. Mountain time on Aug. 18, at which point the woman and her family were still in Kabul. But according to a live feed Farthing conducted this weekend from Nowzad headquarters, Naderi and her family were evacuated to Ramstein Air Base in Germany, a U.S. Air Force facility, sometime after that, most likely on Aug. 19 or 20, McCarthy said.
"(Sunday), I was in tears," McCarthy said, describing the rush of emotion she felt at learning about the evacuation of Naderi's family. " … It was relief. But now I'm also very concerned because they're not in a very good situation. … I can't do anything to get her out of where she is."
McCarthy said she believes Naderi has her laptop computer with her, and she looks forward to receiving an email from her as soon as her friend has Internet access.
Naderi apparently was able to establish contact with Farthing once she and her family were at Ramstein to let him know they had arrived safely. She said there were 9,000 refugees at the base, where there was inadequate food, water and sanitation.
Naderi sent Farthing a photo from her camera phone of the crowded conditions at her camp at Ramstein.
McCarthy reached out to U.S. Embassy officials in Germany over the weekend and spoke to a duty officer who told her two camps had been set up at Ramstein — one for Afghan citizens and one for everyone else. McCarthy worried that Naderi, who holds dual Afghan-American citizenship, and her son, also an Afghan-American, had been separated at that point from her husband, who does not hold American citizenship but does have a spousal visa.
To New York and back
Naderi became a naturalized American citizen in the 1990s when she and her Afghan father immigrated to the United States. They settled in New York City, where Najwa later worked in the Garment District and started her own construction company. She chose to return to her native country after 9/11 to help rebuild Afghanistan, but she later got involved in animal welfare work and went to work for Farthing at Nowzad. Her son was born on Long Island in New York in 2020.
McCarthy said her understanding is that Naderi intends to return to the United States with her family as soon as she is able. Naderi, who is expecting her second child, has a sister who lives on Long Island, and she apparently hopes to be reunited with her sibling and have the baby there, McCarthy said.
As for the rest of the Nowzad staff, Farthing stated over the weekend on his live feeds and through posts on the Nowzad website that a donor has funded a rescue operation.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson reportedly has approved visas for all the remaining Nowzad staff members and their families, and a cargo plane funded by the donor will carry the staff, members of their families and most of the organization's remaining animals to safety.
McCarthy said Farthing indicated there is expected to be room on the plane for additional Afghan refugees, as well. He said three members of the Nowzad staff have chosen to remain behind and care for the animals that cannot be airlifted out — some donkeys, a horse, a bull and a goat — and to maintain the Nowzad compound in case the situation in Kabul stabilizes and the organization's work there can resume.
McCarthy encouraged people who support the work of the organization to donate to Nowzad through its website at nowzad.com.
She said she is grateful that Naderi and her family have reached safety, but she didn't know if any of her extensive lobbying efforts last week on their behalf had any effect.
"I have no idea," she said. "I hope they did because that would make me feel like I wasn't spinning my wheels."
Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or email@example.com. Support local journalism with a digital subscription.