From Afghanistan to America: Hafiz’s Story

Giving By Robyn Burns Oct 28, 2022

The Western Union Foundation is proud to partner with Upwardly Global in their efforts to help refugees restart their careers and access skilled jobs in the United States. Last year, the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan set off a massive resettlement of refugees with approximately 80,000 Afghan newcomers having since relocated to the U.S.

Founded 22 years ago, Upwardly Global is the first and longest-serving national organization dedicated to advancing the inclusion of immigrant and refugee professionals into the U.S. workplace. Since August 2021, Upwardly Global has placed over 300 Afghan newcomers into jobs that align with their experience and skill set, with an average income gain of over $60,000. One of these refugees supported by Upwardly Global is Hafiz.

Hafiz’s Evacuation Decision

Hafiz was an airline pilot in Afghanistan who operated some of the critical evacuation flights requested by the U.S. government. He narrowly missed landing at the Kabul airport at a disastrous moment. “We were flying an empty flight back to Kabul,” recalls Hafiz. “They said we didn’t have permission (to land) so we should go to an alternate airport. At that moment, there was a blast at Kabul International Airport,” shared Hafiz.

With his wife and family still in Kabul, Hafiz had to think fast and figure out how to get them all safely out of Afghanistan. “Kam Air wanted me to stay,” Hafiz recalls, in reference to his employer. “But my wife was seven months pregnant. I did not want to be far from my family. It was my first baby. Kam Air helped me become a pilot and I would love to fly with them up to the end of my life. But with the situation, I needed to think about my family: my parents, my wife, my sisters.”

Hafiz and his family were able to safely travel from Afghanistan to Abu Dhabi, and finally to the United States. That’s where he was referred to Upwardly Global to help him navigate employment opportunities as a pilot in his new country.

“I connected with Upwardly Global and they helped me with training to get a job, writing my resume, searching for careers, interviewing… Upwardly Global is helping me understand how I can continue to be a pilot in the US. It will take time, but I believe I will fly again. Because I love flying.”

Read more about Hafiz’s story on Upwardly Global’s website.

For more than 20 years, the Western Union Foundation has invested in innovative nonprofit partners to help create economic opportunity for people who migrate. We’re proud to invest in Upwardly Global’s programs to create pathways to success for people like Hafiz as they rebuild their lives and access employment opportunities in their new communities.

Learn more about the Western Union Foundation on our website.