‘I was on the last flight out of Kabul’ : life in the UK one year after the Fall of Kabul

‘I just want to help people. That’s the humanity.’

Abdul Naser Sultani worked for the British Army in Afghanistan, and during the Fall of Kabul last August he escaped with his wife and three small children on the last flight out of Kabul Airport.

After a harrowing journey to the UK and an even longer journey to be resettled into a home, he is now a beloved member of the local community in Chingford, Greater London, where he now lives.

Portrait photo of Abdul an afghan refugee in the UK

I worked for the British army about seven or eight years ago. Then last August, Afghanistan fell to the Taliban.

I got an email saying I was eligible for relocation. But there was a lot of bureaucracy getting out of the country.

It was horrible. I was waiting in a really long queue at the British Embassy to get documents. I had to look after my kids who were two, three and six at the time, so I had to get out of the queue to get water. And every time that happened we kept getting pushed to the back.

Then we got to the airport. I was with my kids and it took us two or three days of not enough food and water. And the Taliban were there, and they were beating everyone. I didn’t see it happening, but I saw my son crying. And he said they beat his hands with a stick. He was six years old at the time.

Abdul on last flight out of Afganistan

Abdul and his family on the last flight out of Afghanistan.

We made it onto the last flight to the UK out of Afghanistan. We flew from Kabul to Dubai and from Dubai to Birmingham. And then my one year of life in the UK had started.

We were in a hotel for two months. And I know we were one of the lucky ones. There are still thousands of people like me who’re stuck in hotels a year later.

I’ve faced challenges here. I was a dentistry student in Afghanistan. I want to continue my studies, but I need to take an IELTS (English language) exam, so I am waiting for that.

Now, I am a teaching assistant in Chingford. I love using my language skills to help people where I can.

I speak English, Urdu, Pashto and Dari. The last two languages are from Afghanistan and my native language is Dari. Pashto is spoken in Pakistan.

In my school we have lots of students who are from different places around the world just like Afghanistan, so I help students translate.

I also love to help out the local community where I can. I visit refugees in temporary accommodation whose applications are still being processed. Most of the people I visit are from Iran,Iraq,Turkey and Syria. Every Saturday, I go with the school I work for and I help with English lessons, so they can settle in the UK. It is very difficult as you are not allowed to work, and you are still waiting for your life to start. I encourage everyone to support your local families seeking safety where you can – even donations of any spare toys or blankets will help the kids.

While still I’m waiting to kickstart my dentistry career, settling into life in the UK has not always been easy. It was really difficult, getting to know the system, it’s all very complicated.

But we are happy here in Chingford, and I enjoying helping his local community through my school and my volunteering.

I just want to be able to help people where I can. It makes me feel good. That’s the humanity.

Author IMIX

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