Naweed - December 2017

Left to right: Shen Low (Community Health Educator) Frances Pena, Areeba Siddiqui (Community Health Educator), and Vicky Armella

My name is Naweed Yousufi. I am 31 years old and my education is in the field of Public Affairs.

My first job in Afghanistan was with Contrack International as a Logistics Coordinator and Logistics Assistant. In this role, I provided logistical support to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In 2005, I joined K-AFGTV, a television station based in Los Angeles, CA as the Afghanistan Correspondent. I was assigned to cover United States development in Afghanistan. This included topics such as their work in infrastructure reconstruction and strengthening democracy in my country. During that time, I also worked for the U.S. Army as a researcher and a freelance journalist embedded with U.S. forces. I worked side by side with American soldiers and was a part of military missions and operations in all 32 of Afghanistan’s provinces.

To be a journalist is an honor for me. As a journalist, I have the ability to help people by sharing their voice and to speak out for democracy, freedom and human rights.

I faced many security problems while I was in Afghanistan. I lost many of my best friends because of the danger we were placed in through our work as members of the media. I was attacked and injured several times, but was lucky enough to survive.   

While working in Northern Afghanistan in 2015, I was targeted for death and badly injured. After that time, the U.S. government warned me that because I had become known for my journalism work with the U.S. military and my non-profit work with a civil society organization, my life was in too much danger in Afghanistan. They recommended that I apply for a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV).

In 2017, I traveled to Sacramento, CA as a SIV holder. My case had been assigned to Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services (SFBFS). When my plane landed at Sacramento Airport on June 13, I didn’t know what to expect and I was worried about whether someone would be at the airport to help me. I was shocked to find SFBFS' Refugee Resettlement Manager and two other employees at the airport waiting to greet me with a warm welcome.

SFBFS' Refugee Resettlement staff supported me a lot. They gave me everything I needed for my home, cultural orientation lessons, helped me with my social security card and many other things. A month after I arrived, I got my first job and now work for Amazon. In August, I started a non-profit organization called Refugees Rise to support other refugees through education, job skills, advocacy and increasing cultural understanding. It is not easy starting my life over again in a new country, but I am on my way to building a safer future for myself and I hope I can help others do the same. It feels so good to be in the United States where I have the right to speak out as a journalist to help others.  Lastly, I just want to say thank you the United States government and the American people for supporting the SIV program.