Fruitland woman helps friend flee Afghanistan, land safely in New York

Ann Marie McCarthy says she hopes to see her friend soon

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times
  • Afghan-American citizen Najwa Naderi and her family are staying with Naderi's sister on Long Island.
  • They arrived in New York from Germany last weekend.
  • They were evacuated from Kabul during their third week in August.

FARMINGTON — A Fruitland woman who helped her Afghan-American friend escape from Kabul in August says her friend and the woman's family have made it to Long Island in New York, where they are staying with a family member.

Ann Marie McCarthy, a retired nurse practitioner and former U.S. Army Reservist, said she received an email from her friend Najwa Naderi on Aug. 31 letting her know her family had made it to New York on Aug. 29 from Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

Naderi and her family had been staying at a refugee camp at Ramstein since being evacuated from Kabul sometime around Aug. 19 or 20, McCarthy said.

Naderi traveled with her husband, Mirnais, and their son, Ibrahim. Naderi has served as the longtime in-country manager for Nowzad, a Kabul-based animal rescue operation founded by former British marine commando Pen Farthing. Because of that association, Naderi's life and the lives of her family members were thought to be in danger once the Taliban seized control of the Afghan capital.

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Najwa Naderi, her husband Mirnais and their son Ibrahim celebrate Ibrahim's first birthday in Afghanistan. The family was evacuated from Kabul last month and made it to New York last weekend.

McCarthy and Naderi have been friends since 2017, when McCarthy adopted the first of two dogs from Nowzad. The two have maintained their relationship via telephone and email since that time, but they have never met.

That will change soon, McCarthy said. She already had plans to return to her native New Jersey next week, and she hopes to travel to Long Island during that visit to meet Naderi and her family and to take them clothing and other supplies they need. McCarthy said it is her understanding that Naderi and her family escaped from Kabul with only the clothes on their back and are staying with Naderi's sister.

Naderi is a naturalized American, and her son was born in the United States in 2019. She lived in New York for many years after her father brought her to America from Afghanistan when she was a youngster, but she chose to return after 9/11 to help rebuild the country and eventually went to work for Nowzad.

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Many of her Afghan coworkers at the animal rescue operation were not able to get out of the country, despite Farthing's best efforts. McCarthy said that information she has gathered from the Nowzad website and from videos posted by Farthing indicate that roughly two dozen Afghan employees of the organization, who were trying to flee on a special commercial flight funded by a Nowzad donor, were turned away at Kabul International Airport because their British visas were deemed insufficient.

The flight had been arranged to take Farthing, his employees, their families and most of the organization's remaining animals to safety. Instead, only Farthing and the animals were on the flight, McCarthy said.

Apparently, Farthing is exploring other channels for getting the remaining Nowzad staff members and their families to safety, McCarthy said. In a video, he said he also left behind enough funds to ensure that those workers would be paid for up to three months, and other emergency funding would be available for the shelter.

The dogs and cats Farthing brought with him on his flight out of Kabul have been placed in quarantine in kennels around the United Kingdom, McCarthy said. Each one of them already has been adopted by a U.K. citizen, she said.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or measterling@daily-times.com. Support local journalism with a digital subscription.