GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — One year after the last American troops left Afghanistan, a best-selling author from Holland is continuing to help relocate refugees who worked for her non-profit.
Deborah Rodriguez wrote “Kabul Beauty School” and “The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul.” She says the daily life remains a struggle for people living in the country and refugees in legal limbo trying to find a permanent home.
“Things are pretty bleak,” Rodriguez said. “Income has gone down and the price of everything has gone up.”
Rodriguez has helped about 100 refugees get out of the country through a non-profit called The Kabul Beauty School. The staff members and families who worked there were at risk because they worked for an American non-profit. The Kabul Beauty School taught women a trade now prohibited by the Taliban.
She is hearing from friends and former employees about what it is like to live under the Taliban.
“A woman cannot travel 40 miles from her home without having a male escort with her, usually a family member,” Rodriguez said. “I had a family that one of their daughters was already taken and they know nothing. She’s just gone … 20-year-old girl.”
Food has also become scarce, and Rodriguez says getting out of the country is beyond difficult.
“Some of my people who have opted to stay in Kabul … they can’t find work, but they also can’t get visas to leave Kabul and getting passports are so expensive right now, almost impossible to get,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez says some of the staff members have resettled in new countries, but many remain stateless.
“We’re working with the families. Many of the families are in Pakistan and so we’re working to help resettle them,” Rodriguez said.
The conversations she has with her team are full of loss and despair.
“They’re grieving the loss of their home, their friends, their family. They know that they may not see their land again,” Rodriguez said. “That’s what I hear more than anything is their love for their country and the sadness that it’s gone.”
Rodriguez is now working on a new book on the struggle for people to evacuate when the country fell to the Taliban.