Afghan refugee hopes for the future 1 year after family evacuated to Fort McCoy

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Large military planes rumbled across Volk Field in Wisconsin carrying Afghan evacuees who escaped the Taliban takeover in August of 2021.

Nearly 13,000 Afghan refugees eventually passed through nearby Ft. McCoy as part of “Operation Allies Welcome.”

“We left our country in a very bad situation, at a time, we were just trying to save our lives and our kids’ lives,” said Hamid Samar, an Afghan refugee once housed at Ft. McCoy.

The family of six eventually made their way to Ft. McCoy, a few hours’ drive southeast of the Twin Cities between the communities of Sparta and Tomah, Wisconsin.

Samar was one of the first Ft. McCoy refugees to share with the outside world the conditions they faced.

RELATED: Afghan media pioneer who started first all-female news network now a refugee in Wisconsin

Back in Afghanistan, Samar started Zan TV, a television station for women back in Kabul, in 2017.

Now living with his family in Philadelphia, Samar continues to help operate Zan TV with a team working back in Afghanistan.

“What we are seeing in our country day-by-day it’s getting worse,” Samar said when it comes to education and women’s rights.

On Zan TV social media, Samar said staff now tell the stories of Afghan women to the world to bring light on the issues they face under the Taliban.

“That gives you hope,” Samar said that the stories of Afghan women can still be heard.

In the last year, 1314 people have arrived in Minnesota from Afghanistan, according to the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

While in Wisconsin, 858 afghan refugees have resettled in the state, according to Wisconsin Department of Children and Families.

“I think the biggest takeaway was the courage and the bravery of these families to give up everything to start all over,” said Mary Moothart, a Ft. McCoy volunteer.

Moothart, and her husband Tim volunteered more than 300 hours of their time as part of a group from Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Dubuque, Iowa.

“We had people from all over the country, believe it or not, I thought it would be just the region around Fort McCoy,” said Tim Moothart of the volunteer effort at Ft. McCoy.

The Mootharts hope Congress passes legislation to allow for a smooth transition for refugees to remain in the US.

The couple continues to help Afghan refugees that have moved to their community.