Afghan translator expresses gratitude for daughters’ training, first Thanksgiving in America


Three months in the past, Zabiullah R., who served as a fight translator for the 82nd Airborne in Afghanistan, didn’t know what would occur to him and his household after the U.S. navy withdrawal.   

Zabiullah, affectionately identified by troops as Johnny, was capable of escape Kabul in August, with the assistance of a U.S. senator, a non-public veterans group, and members of the 82nd Airborne. Johnny arrived along with his household at his new North Carolina dwelling again in October.   

Right now, his younger daughters are already getting one thing they by no means would have obtained beneath the Taliban: an training.   

Johnny and his family inside Rea View Elementary.

Johnny and his household inside Rea View Elementary.
(Courtesy of Sarah Verardo)


“They’re glad and so they’re excited,” stated Johnny. “Each morning … 6 o’clock within the morning, my two daughters, they get up and prepare … simply come into my room and get up us.”  

Johnny says the ladies even ask to go on weekends.  

“I inform them, like ‘two days off, you need to keep dwelling’,” stated Johnny. “They maintain asking, ‘We wish to go to high school, we like college. We’ve got associates again college. We wish to play with them. We wish to meet them.'”  

His daughters have been welcomed at their new college in Weddington, North Carolina, and embraced by the group, the place most of the troopers Johnny as soon as served alongside now stay.   

College students and households at Rea View Elementary college waited in anticipation for Johnny, his spouse, and his three women with hand-made indicators and greetings written in Dari.  

Classmates and local families greet daughters of Afghan interpreter.

Classmates and native households greet daughters of Afghan interpreter.
(Courtesy of Sarah Verardo)

“The second they pulled up, it obtained to be so quiet like you may hear a pin drop. And the ladies get out of the automotive, and so they walked up, and, after all, they have been smiling, beaming ear to ear,” recounted Jennifer Parker, principal at Rea View Elementary College. “And my households and youngsters simply have been waving and saying hi there of their native language.”  

They play soccer on the identical staff because the daughters of Sgt. Mike Verardo and his spouse, Sarah.   

Johnny holds 508th Infantry Regiment flag with wounded veteran Mike Verardo.

Johnny holds 508th Infantry Regiment flag with wounded veteran Mike Verardo.
(Courtesy of Sarah Verardo)

Johnny served as a translator for Verardo, who misplaced his leg in Afghanistan’s Arghandab Valley in 2010 and suffered a traumatic mind harm. Mike has undergone greater than 100 surgical procedures at Walter Reed after serving with the 508th Infantry Regiment, an airborne infantry regiment of the US Military, first shaped in October 1942 throughout World Struggle II. Each Mike and Johnny every have three daughters.  

Now, they’re neighbors, and their daughters are finest associates.   

“Seeing our six women play collectively, six little women whose dads served collectively, shoulder-to-shoulder in Afghanistan, has healed all of our hearts just a little bit extra every day,” stated Sarah Verardo, Mike’s spouse and CEO of The Independence Fund and Co-Founding father of Save our Allies. “These youngsters are an instance to all about what it means to like all individuals.” 

Their women went trick-or-treating for the primary time and now have play dates after college.  

Muzhdah, Muzhgan, and Asra trick-or-treating with their new American friends.

Muzhdah, Muzhgan, and Asra trick-or-treating with their new American associates.
(Courtesy of Sarah Verardo)

“That was really the primary Halloween in the US. They have been so excited,” stated Johnny. “They went to the Halloween occasion and house-to-house to satisfy different children and households.”  

Muzhdah, 7, and Muzhgan, 5, didn’t converse a phrase of English once they arrived at college.  

“Google Translate does not have Dari on it, so it has been an expertise with that. So, a number of hand gestures, photos. I really feel like we’re enjoying a sport of charades each day. However it’s little issues to get them to know. And now they’ve began to know,” stated Parker. “Final week, Muzhdah really stated a full sentence in English.”  

Her first sentence?  

“‘I like pizza.] Sure, Muzhdah loves pizza,” recalled Parker.   

Parker says Muzhdah and Muzhgan take nothing as a right. 

Muzghan with her sisters at school.

Muzghan along with her sisters at college.

“Generally children are like, ‘Oh, I do not really feel good, I do not wish to go to high school.’ And to them, it is such a privilege. And so, getting to return into college day-after-day and be taught, particularly as a woman, they’re simply so excited and are little sponges,” stated Parker. “We discuss loads about gratitude and particularly this time of yr. This really exemplifies how grateful that household is.”  

Johnny says his daughters are embracing their newfound freedoms.  

“A hijab … [Muzhdah] stated, I am not going to try this. I wish to be extra free. I will stay in freedom,” stated Johnny.  


This Thanksgiving one Afghan household has introduced a lot pleasure to this North Carolina group who opened their hearts and helped them begin their new life in America.  

“I am grateful to be protected right here,” stated Johnny. “I am grateful for this primary Thanksgiving I am right here with my household.”  

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