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INTERNATIONAL RESCUE COMMITTEE: Meet Sofia, a young Afghan refugee building her new life as a computer programmer in the United States

International Rescue Committee
Sophia, a young Afghan refugee, sitting at her desk and using her computer.

The IRC provides humanitarian relief and recovery assistance to those fleeing crises around the world. One of those places is Afghanistan. Plagued by decades of violent conflict and natural disasters, Afghanistan has created one of the largest refugee populations in the world. We began work in Afghanistan in 1988, launching relief programs for people displaced by the invasion of the Soviet Union. We now work with thousands of villages and communities across nine provinces, with Afghans making up more than 99% of IRC staff in the country. In recent years, the IRC has become one of the leaders in women’s protection and empowerment in the country. 

With your generous support, the IRC is able to provide uprooted families around the world and in Afghanistan specifically with cash assistance, tents, clean water, sanitation and other basic necessities. The IRC supports over 100 health facilities, installs hand-washing stations in local communities, and provides information and training sessions about COVID-19. We also provide safe learning spaces in rural areas, help people find employment, and work with local communities to identify, plan and manage their own development projects. 

Meet Sofia, a young Afghan refugee building her new life as a computer programmer in the United States.

When Sofia*, 25, fled Afghanistan in August 2021, she had a bachelor’s degree in computer science and a dream of creating websites that bring people together. With support from the IRC, she was able to restart her life in the United States, where she hopes to rebuild her career as a computer programmer. 

How did you evacuate from Afghanistan? 

In August 2021, suddenly the situation turned very chaotic. Everyone panicked and was scared for their lives.  

In the final days when I was leaving, everything was dire and people were extremely anxious because they were trying to leave. I was also anxious that the situation might get even worse. No one knew what was going to happen to them. When I arrived at the airport, I couldn’t believe so many people had already come. I thought I might not be able to enter the airport, but after a lot of struggles I was able to get on a flight. My brother and I were able to leave but our mother, who has arthritis, was not able to make it to the airport in time. She now lives in Kabul all alone, with no one to help with her medical needs. 

How has your experience in the U.S. been? 

We came to the U.S. on September 6. My goal was to come here and just have a life. I think 80% of girls who are in Kabul want the same. They want freedom, freedom of thinking, freedom of education. Their wish is to reach what they are dreaming about. The IRC has always, from my point of view, helped everyone. When I first came here I was treated very well and all the questions I had were answered.  For instance, they introduced us to multiple organizations that helped us with basic necessities. They also helped us to relocate close to family members. I wish the IRC even more success in helping Afghans. I really thank them because what they do is a big deal for us. Once I arrived here, I thought, ‘I got all I wanted and now I can overcome any problems.’ It was a strange feeling to know I can achieve whatever I have planned for.

What are your career goals and dreams?

I want to be a person who can help others. I really like working in networking and IT. I want to find ways to help those who don’t understand or don’t have access to technology. I also want to make a website like Google, Facebook and Instagram because these apps bring everyone together. Computer science helps introduce people to the world and show them what is happening. I am very determined to reach my goals. I want to establish myself in the United States and hopefully sponsor my mother to come here.

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International Rescue Committee

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