Nov 25, 2021
Afghan translator expresses gratitude for daughters' education, first Thanksgiving in America
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Three months ago, Zabiullah R., who served as a combat translator for the 82nd Airborne in Afghanistan, did not know what would happen to him and his family after the U.S. military withdrawal.
Zabiullah, affectionately known by troops as Johnny, was able to escape Kabul in August, with the help of a U.S. senator, a private veterans group, and members of the 82nd Airborne. Johnny arrived with his family at his new North Carolina home back in October.
Today, his young daughters are already getting something they never would have received under the Taliban: an education.
Johnny and his family inside Rea View Elementary. (Courtesy of Sarah Verardo)
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"They’re happy and they’re excited," said Johnny. "Every morning … 6 o'clock in the morning, my two daughters, they wake up and get ready … just come into my room and wake up us."
Johnny says the girls even ask to go on weekends.
"I tell them, like 'two days off, you have to stay home'," said Johnny. "They keep asking, 'We want to go to school, we like school. We have friends back school. We want to play with them. We want to meet them.'"
His daughters have been welcomed at their new school in Weddington, North Carolina, and embraced by the community, where many of the soldiers Johnny once served alongside now live.
Students and families at Rea View Elementary school waited in anticipation for Johnny, his wife, and his three girls with hand-made signs and greetings written in Dari.
Classmates and local families greet daughters of Afghan interpreter. (Courtesy of Sarah Verardo)
"The moment they pulled up, it got to be so quiet like you could hear a pin drop. And the girls get out of the car, and they walked up, and, of course, they were smiling, beaming ear to ear," recounted Jennifer Parker, principal at Rea View Elementary School. "And my families and kids just were waving and saying hello in their native language."
They play soccer on the same team as the daughters of Sgt. Mike Verardo and his wife, Sarah.
Johnny holds 508th Infantry Regiment flag with wounded veteran Mike Verardo. (Courtesy of Sarah Verardo)
Johnny served as a translator for Verardo, who lost his leg in Afghanistan's Arghandab Valley in 2010 and suffered a traumatic brain injury. Mike has undergone more than 100 surgeries at Walter Reed after serving with the 508th Infantry Regiment, an airborne infantry regiment of the United States Army, first formed in October 1942 during World War II. Both Mike and Johnny each have three daughters.
Now, they are neighbors, and their daughters are best friends.
"Seeing our six girls play together, six little girls whose dads served together, shoulder-to-shoulder in Afghanistan, has healed all of our hearts a little bit more each day," said Sarah Verardo, Mike's wife and CEO of The Independence Fund and Co-Founder of Save our Allies. "These children are an example to all about what it means to love all people."
Their girls went trick-or-treating for the first time and now have play dates after school.
Muzhdah, Muzhgan, and Asra trick-or-treating with their new American friends. (Courtesy of Sarah Verardo)
"That was actually the first Halloween in the United States. They were so excited," said Johnny. "They went to the Halloween party and house-to-house to meet other kids and families."
Muzhdah, 7, and Muzhgan, 5, did not speak a word of English when they arrived at school.
"Google Translate doesn't have Dari on it, so it's been an experience with that. So, a lot of hand gestures, pictures. I feel like we're playing a game of charades on a daily basis. But it's little things to get them to understand. And now they've started to understand," said Parker. "Last week, Muzhdah actually said a full sentence in English."
Her first sentence?
"'I like pizza.] Yes, Muzhdah loves pizza," recalled Parker.
Parker says Muzhdah and Muzhgan take nothing for granted.
Muzghan with her sisters at school.
"Sometimes kids are like, ‘Oh, I don't feel good, I don't want to go to school.’ And to them, it's such a privilege. And so, getting to come into school every day and learn, especially as a girl, they are just so excited and are little sponges," said Parker. "We talk a lot about gratitude and especially this time of year. This truly exemplifies how grateful that family is."
Johnny says his daughters are embracing their newfound freedoms.
"A hijab … [Muzhdah] said, I'm not going to do that. I want to be more free. I'm going to live in freedom," said Johnny.
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This Thanksgiving one Afghan family has brought so much joy to this North Carolina community who opened their hearts and helped them start their new life in America.
"I'm grateful to be safe here," said Johnny. "I'm grateful for this first Thanksgiving I'm here with my family."
Jennifer Griffin currently serves as a national security correspondent for FOX News Channel . She joined FNC in October 1999 as a Jerusalem-based correspondent. You can follow her on Twitter at @JenGriffinFNC.
News Source: FOX News
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Warriors-Suns lives up to the hype but ends in Golden States third loss of the season
PHOENIX — Draymond Green pulled up, exhausted, and watched as the nail dig into the coffin of the Warriors’ seven-game winning streak and their claim to sole possession of the NBA’s best record.
Jae Crowder’s 3-pointer with 3:47 to go sealed the Warriors’ fate in a 104-96 loss to the Phoenix Suns in a matchup of the NBA’s top two teams that lived up to its billing.
Green had just run the length of the court and back two times but failed to complete either of his attempts at the rim that could have stemmed the Suns’ game-clinching run. Instead, all he could was watch. Crowder’s 3 was the clincher in a 24-18 fourth quarter that gave the Suns their 18th consecutive win and pulled them even with Golden State atop the Western Conference standings at 18-3.
Tuesday’s game was more than just an early season matchup for supremacy in the West. It was a battle of one team vying to regain its position and another looking to replicate the former’s dynastic reign.
Suns coach Monty Williams laid the stakes bare.
“They have everything we want,” Williams said this week. “They have championships, they have MVPs, they have Defensive Player of the Years — they have all that. We don’t.”
Warriors coach Steve Kerr made sure to note this was the 21st game of the regular season, not a playoff series.
It took on a postseason atmosphere during a fast-paced first half with each team’s strengths on display, and it didn’t lose any luster after halftime, despite Phoenix star Devin Booker exiting midway through the second quarter with a hamstring injury.
The Warriors took a two-point deficit in to the locker room, and the two top dogs of the Western Conference played to a stalemate for almost the entirety of the ensuing 24 minutes, until the Suns’ ended the game on a 12-5 run set off by Crowder’s fourth triple of the game.
Trailing 99-92 out of a timeout with 2 minutes and change to go, Stephen Curry threw the ball right into the hands of Deandre Ayton, Golden State’s 22nd turnover of the game.
Phoenix erased a 48-39 deficit and flipped it into a 70-61 advantage, almost entirely with Booker off the floor.
That took the Suns the final 7:25 of the first half and the first 6:41 of the second. And in less than 3 minutes, their lead had all but vanished.
Jordan Poole flew out of nowhere and left Cam Johnson laying on the hardwood while the Warriors raced into transition. With the ball back in his hands, after a rejection at the rim, Poole fed a fastball to Gary Payton II, who put one exclamation point on the Warriors’ run, then another.
Poole followed up his block by swiping a pass intended for Mikal Bridges, then sent the rock Payton’s way again, and the 6-foot rim rattler threw it home again to tie it the game 75.
Poole went off for 16 first-quarter points, tying a career high, but went quiet while the Suns regained the lead heading into halftime. He was held to two points in the the second quarter and finished the game with 26.