CASEY COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — A Casey County man and his family are finally making the long journey home after being stuck in Afghanistan for months. The family was visiting a sick relative in Afghanistan when the U.S. withdrew troops from the country on Aug. 30.
Abdul Samad, his wife, four children, and mother-in-law are in Dubai while they wait for their flight to the United States.
"It's almost seemed unreal because we are out there and safe," said Samad.
Samad says they've struggled mentally, physically, and financially in the Taliban-controlled country. They didn't have money for food and constantly had to move locations. That's why after working with the U.S. Embassy and Senator Mitch McConnell's office for weeks and being in a constant holding pattern, Samad decided to take the safety risk and evacuate his family himself.
"It was difficult. But I had to take the risk," said Samad.
He took that risk more than once, traveling to the airport in Kabul with his family. They were turned away from the airport in Kabul three times before he was finally able to convince a guard to let them leave.
"They were looking for excuse not to let us go. So I plead with them," said Samad. "That was like a miracle. I was really the last go and so I have tried and tried and so you know it was disappointing because we didn't know which way to go. And I didn't have the money to even go to neighboring country."
Now that they're in Dubai, Samad says he finally feels safe. However, even when they land in the U.S., their journey back to their old life will be far from over. They no longer have a home to go to, no jobs and are $20,000 in debt.
"If I don't get help, I won't be-I will never be able to get out [of debt]. Realistically, I could work day and night but that will not make a difference," said Samad.
His friends in Liberty, Kentucky have created a GoFundMe for his family. They also plan to help them get from Chicago to Kentucky.
"Surely there's got to be enough kind-hearted generous people out there that will be very willing to help if they knew the situation," said Samad's friend Nathan Dunlap.
Samad was given a fresh start in America after losing both hands and his left eye in a landmine explosion when he was a teenager growing up in Afghanistan. He was taken in by Galilean Children’s Home founders Jerry and Sandy Tucker in Kentucky.
He eventually got married, had children, got a good job, and an apartment for his family. Now he has to do the same thing over again.
Zachary Harpin grew up at the Galilean Children's Home together. Harpin says he considers him a brother.
"It breaks my heart because, you know, six to eight months ago, you wouldn't think that he would be going through this. So it's like he's reliving some of the hardship that he was leaving in Afghanistan," said Harpin. "He had to really live all that again, as far as trying to get to America or trying to get help. Because he said it was a lot of work and a lot of dangerous, you know, getting out alive. So I'm thankful that him and his family made it out."