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Afghan refugees land in Omaha with local family’s help after months of uncertainty

Published: Dec. 1, 2021 at 7:33 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - In 2014, the Jensen’s moved from Kabul back to Omaha after seven years of living and working at an American international school. Since returning, Erin and Ken Jensen have remained in contact with friends and students.

When the Taliban took over Kabul In August, the Jensen’s knew it was their duty and God’s will to help as many people flee the country as they could.

They began working through every government channel and reaching out to every connection they had and were eventually able to help 15 people evacuate after several trying attempts to get people to and through the overwhelmed Kabul airport.

On Wednesday, seven of those 15 finally landed in Omaha.

“Today is the day!” Ken and Erin told 6 News, just minutes before the seven Jamilzada family members snuck up behind them.

“It’s surreal, surreal. Exciting, hard to believe this is happening,” Ken adds.

After an emotional round of screams and hugs, the oldest of the group, Naim says he couldn’t be more thrilled to be in Omaha with his family.

“Finally we made it to Omaha, to our friends, our family,” Naim says.

Leading up to this moment, the Jamilzada family has been in military camps, first in Germany, where they had no contact with other family members or friends. They then made it to the United States, where they waited in a camp in Wisconsin.

“We were stuck in a camp for three months and it almost seemed impossible to get out,” says 16-year-old Mursal. “That night we were surprised it was us, but it was pretty nice, I’m happy we’re here.”

“And it’s still impossible, I feel like it’s not true, it’s like a dream!” says 15-year-old Spoogmi.

Tuesday night, the soldiers at their camp finally read their names, meaning they were on the next flight out and headed to Omaha.

“Before he even finished, I started screaming that’s us! Yes, that’s us! We were pretty happy,” Mursal says.

“Feeling the freedom is just very nice,” Naim adds.

“I was like so excited, I couldn’t, like, I didn’t know what to do, I was super excited,” Spoogmi says.

The news of their departure from the military camp also came as a surprise to Stephanie and Gianna Schrader. They’re hosting Naim, his wife Mezghan, and infant Sana.

They had been waiting months for the call, too.

“It just gave me the chills, we’re just excited, we’ve been helping a lot of other families that are already here and, it’s not good in Afghanistan it’s really, really bad and I’, just really excited for them to be here and I’m excited for these girls that are the same age as her to have this opportunity, and we just can’t wait to love on them,” Stephanie says.

“Just shock, like, it’s really happening, a little bit of, you know, you’re nervous, is this going to work is this a good idea, but also just thrilled to finally see them coming,” Erin says.

The moment is bittersweet for the Jamilzadas. They’re happy to be in Omaha but are missing other family members they had to leave behind. They’re worried about the future of their home.

“Whenever we are going around, today especially, when I was on my way here, many times I said ‘I wish my parents was with us,’” Naim says.

But nonetheless, they’re ready to begin the next chapter in their lives.

“I want to go to school,” says Spoogmi.

“I’d like to start working out, I wanna do dance, I want to study, I want to go to school, I want to do everything I can,” Mursall says.

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