Austin homeowner aids Afghani refugee who helped U.S. forces

Homeowner helps afghan refugee

AUSTIN - How much do you know about the people working on your home? For most people, the answer likely isn't much. You may know their name or their task, but what about their life story?

"There are six billion, seven billion people in this world and I believe that everyone deserves a closer look," said Nhaila Hendrckse, herself an immigrant from London.

She's been stateside for 30 years and now works as a teacher in Austin.

She's currently building a home in Austin with help from a construction crew she knows. But there's one new member of the crew that she didn't know well, when he approached her with an issue.

Rahimullah Abdulsamd asked Hendrickse for help with his son, who's struggling in school. The reason why is what caught her attention.

"I was working with special U.S. forces back in Afghanistan," said Abdulsamd, who spent five years as a linguist. Prior to that, he spent three years in the Afghanistan National Army, where three of his cousins were killed.

Despite no formal training in English, Abdulsamd said he picked up English over two years after conversing with U.S. soldiers. While he's proud of his service, he's also faced several threats because of it.

"(Terrorists) say you have to quit this job. If you didn't quit, don't worry that's not hard for us. This is our job. We are looking for you. One day we will cut you. You're going to be (dead)," Abdulsamd said.

Still, he kept on with his work.

"I said, 'No, I'm not quitting.'"

During his service, he shared little to those close to him, and avoided weddings and large gatherings so he wouldn't be drawn into conversations about his unexplained absences.

He finished his service in 2014 and had been working at a sporting goods store since, all while waiting for US officials to approve his refugee transfer request to the states. He began the process in 2012, in the middle of his time working with U.S. Special Forces.

On Sept. 1, he officially moved to America along with his wife and young son. Through refugee services, his apartment and utility bills are paid for through the first eight months, and he and his family rely on food stamps for extra assistance.

His wife and son don't speak English, and Abdulsamd has been forced to adapt to his new life here.

He found a construction crew comprised of immigrants that were willing to take him on, and teach him carpentry skills as he adjusted to the country. It was pure fate that he happened to work on Hendrickse's house.

After hearing of his story, she reached out to friends and family to find ways to assist him. When one of them suggested a GoFundMe, she created a post, setting a modest $750 goals. Eight days later, supporters have already raised $1,700.

"I just feel incredibly privileged to help another family out, honestly the way so many families helped us out when we first came here. So it's a really lovely full circle moment for me," explained Hendrickse.

"She's already been a lot of help to us," said Abdulsamd.

"I remember being a kid in a little apartment when we first moved here, with not very much. And I remember honestly how scared I was when we first came to this country as immigrants. To see him working this hard is a reminder for me what an incredible place this country is. And it's a reminder for me to help pay it forward, so he can have and accomplish all the dreams he and his wife and his children want to accomplish, that i know this country gives people," said Hendrickse.

Two weeks ago, Abdulsamd's wife gave birth to their second son, a prideful moment for the family.

"I'm happy about that. He will pick (English) up he's new here, he will start here as an American," said Abdulsamd.

Grateful to be in Austin, Abdulsamd is now teaching his wife and children English - translating terms from their native Pashto. Through his work with the construction company as well as a nearby church, Abdulsamd is also picking up Spanish.

He added that he wished the system to bring over fellow translators was quicker, as he highlighted the ongoing security risks they face, even after they've left service.

GO HERE for more information and to donate.

(© 2016 KVUE)


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