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Reunited Afghan family in Rochester after almost ten years apart



Rochester, New York – This week, a family that had been separated for years came together at the Frederick Douglass Greater Rochester International Airport.

In 2015, an Afghani couple and their three children started the process of leaving their own country. They arrived in the United States safely and settled in Rochester in 2018.

Waheed Akrami, their fourth kid, had to be left behind, nevertheless.

The family is back together after over ten years apart.

“The (most) beautiful memory was when my mom called my name and came inside and hugged me,” Waheed recalled. “That was the biggest moment for me.”

“I was living without my brother, without my soul, (for) almost nine years,” said Aleem Akrami, Waheed’s brother. “Nine years I was waiting for this moment, and finally, I meet my brother.”

In Afghanistan, Aleem and Waheed’s father fought alongside American forces. The family had to leave their house since their service made them a target on their back.

After three years, the family moved to Rochester in 2018 without Waheed’s assistance thanks to the work of the Rochester-based charity Keeping Our Promise.

“This is a man who was wrongly denied entry with his family six years ago,” said Deborah Abell, a volunteer with Keeping Our Promise. “Since then, we have been working on his case, and tonight is the culmination of six years of effort — basically, righting a wrong.”

For the previous six years, Waheed’s family battled to clear up an error with his birthdate.

“It didn’t matter that they showed his passport, his school records,” explained Ellen Smith, founder and executive director of Keeping Our Promise. “The government at the time would not budge and let this man come. They have been separated all these years because of a government snafu.”

This week, when Waheed is celebrating his 30th birthday and the holy month of Ramadan draws to an end, the Akrami family has finally come together as one.

“I did not even feel my troubles,” Waheed said. “I didn’t even feel my tiredness when I saw my mom. That was all the joy, and the moment that is captured in my memories.”

Like the Akrami family, more than 200 Afghans have benefited from Keeping Our Promise’s assistance with their relocation to the Greater Rochester area.