GREEN BAY AREA REGIONAL NEWS: Brown County

Life at (& beyond) Fort McCoy: Local 5’s conversations with two refugees from Afghanistan

Local News

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) — According to Siddiq, an Afghan refugee, the days at Fort McCoy can be long.

“We are just sleeping and eating and doing nothing,” he said on a phone call with Local 5. “Our families, they need our support back in Afghanistan.”

Time stretches out in front of Siddiq as he waits for his family to be resettled.

It’s a far cry from the life he left behind in Afghanistan, where he worked with the U.S. military as an interpreter.

The job took him on missions in the mountains, where he worked alongside U.S. service members.

His connections through that job told him when it was time to leave Afghanistan.

“It was like midnight” he recalled. “I told my wife like, I have a newborn son, you know, he’s two months old, so I told my wife, like, ‘Hey, get ready, we are leaving this country.’ and she thought that I’m joking.”

He wasn’t joking.

“we take like one pair of clothes and we just leave our house,” Siddiq told Local 5.

The journey to the airport was riddled with Taliban checkpoints.

“They were like, ‘Where are you going?'” Siddiq remembers. “I was like, ‘My mom is sick, I’m going to take her to the hospital.’ On the second checkpoint, they were like, ‘Hey stop, where are you going?’ I was like, ‘This is my wife and she is going to her mothers’ house.'”

They made it through the checkpoints, to the airport, and finally to America.

Now, they wait at Fort McCoy.

“We thought we would be here for like 3 days,” Siddiq said, “and we would leave this spot to do our jobs and make money to support our family back in Afghanistan.”

He and his family are waiting to be relocated to Colorado, where he has a couple of friends.

While the family waits, refugees have started arriving in the Green Bay area.

Including Pardes, who has asked to be referred to by his last name only.

We also won’t be showing his face.

He arrived in Green Bay over a week ago after spending time on a military base in New Mexico.

“It’s a good place to live,” Pardes said of Green Bay. “It is a very calm, relaxed place. And people are really nice to us, and it’s a good place to live with a family.”

Like Siddiq, Pardes also worked as an interpreter for the U.S. military.

“Life in Afghanistan was always miserable,” Pardes told Local 5, “there was like problems, but recently it changed to hell.”

A hell he was able to escape, but his family wasn’t.

Local 5 sat down with Pardes at the offices of the Diocese of Green Bay.

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Green Bay is helping him get settled in the area.

Pardes is here alone because his family has not been able to get out of Afghanistan.

His pregnant wife, mother, and four children are still hoping to join him.

“I’m not exactly sure will they make it or not,” Pardes said, “but I hope for the good they will make it.”

Pardes was evacuated from Afghanistan because his job with the U.S. military would make him a target for the Taliban.

He says he’s in communication with his family, but he’s unsure of if or when they’ll be able to follow him.

“It is very stressful, like every day, even though I’m safe here,” he said, “…mentally I’m still there. I worry about my family.”

That concern will continue until his family is able to join him in Green Bay to live the life he imagines for them.

“Since I’ve come here, I’ve found out that there’s a lot of opportunities and there’s a lot of stuff going on,” Pardes said, “so it’s a good place for us and I see our future here. I see our future here. We see the future of the kids and ourselves.”

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT CATHOLIC CHARITIES WORK WITH REFUGEES.

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