Afghan interpreter for Broomfield resident to move to community soon
September 29 — In a two-bedroom house tucked away in Broomfield, photos of an Afghan mountain range hang freshly on the kitchen walls. A basket of halal-approved spices and snacks sits on the counter, and the closets are full of washed and ready-to-wear clothes.
And on Tuesday, the house will become the home of Afghan interpreter Ahmad Siddiqi, his wife and their four children. Ahmad served alongside Broomfield resident and Army veteran Scott Henkel during Scott’s deployment to Afghanistan. For months, Scott and his wife, City Councilor Heidi Henkel, have worked to bring the Siddiqi to the United States.
While the Henkels haven’t heard the full story of the escape, they do know that the Siddiqis flew from Kabul to Qatar via Italy, Philadelphia and New Jersey.
On Tuesday, the six will take one final flight to Denver International Airport.
For over a month, Heidi coordinated the donation efforts in preparation for new residents of Broomfield. The furnished house the Siddiqis will be staying in is an AirBnB owned by a Broomfield cop – who wants to remain anonymous – who offered Heidi the space at $ 500 / month less than he normally rents it for. The officer also donated an SUV for the family. The community of Broomfield donated bikes, dozens of toys for each of the children, furniture, decorations and food to the family. The children’s preschool gave the 3-year-old a free year, and the older two are enrolling in Meridian Elementary School. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment contacted Heidi about translating Ahmad’s job postings.
“I was completely blown away by the generosity of the people. Just a reminder of how good this community is in Colorado. People don’t know (Ahmad) that they’ve never met him, they’ve never met us. We have people coming forward, I mean all of this, it is all due to the generosity of people and people who want to help another veteran who is just born in a different country, ”Scott said as ‘he was sitting on the sofa in the future Siddiqi house. .
The Henkel watched the news unfold in August as Kabul fell to the Taliban, doing all they could to keep in touch with the Siddiqis and get them out of Afghanistan safely. On August 22, the Henkel’s agreed to share the story on Fox and Friends in an effort to broadcast their appeals far and wide. While returning from the Denver filming station in Broomfield, Heidi received a Facebook message and an email from a Marine man who said he had to remain anonymous.
“It sounded really weird because he said, ‘I know Navy special forces who need to know names in the field,’ Heidi said, and the man asked for the location of the Sidiqqi family. and a phone number. ”He answered me and said, ‘OK, tell them to charge their phone and one bag.’ … I have chills.”
Ahmad was given a password and he and his family – his wife, 9-year-old daughter, 8-year-old son, 3-year-old daughter, and 1-year-old daughter – walked through the sewer canals before finally do it at the airport. Hours after Heidi’s exchange with the Marine, Scott received a text from Ahmad saying they were out.
The arrival of the Siddiqi family in Colorado has gone from feeling impossible to feeling feasible, although the Henkel’s assumed the process would take months. They learned last week that Ahmad was awaiting a final round of paperwork, and they became optimistic about an Afghan-American Thanksgiving this year.
The Siddiqi had a few other housing options, but Ahmad told the Henkel he wanted to move to Broomfield because the mountains reminded him of his home.
“He said, ‘Baby sister, when I get there I’m going to learn all your rules, and I’m going to teach the Afghans all your rules and teach them so they can follow your rules,” Heidi said. of Ahmad.
On September 1, Heidi created a GoFundMe to provide things like housing security, transportation, food, and family support as she adjusts to her new life in America. Wednesday morning, the fundraiser raised $ 22,200 from 248 donors. Several donors have left comments welcoming the Siddiqis in Colorado and thanking Ahmad for his service.
“It’s really glorious to see people come together and help a family. Because they know what it’s like to help a neighbor and that’s what it’s like to help someone who has served our country. It’s just a family that is in need, “Heidi mentioned. “It was that outpouring of love.”
Heidi said the residents of Broomfield who are Muslims or who speak Farsi came out of the woods. They helped her buy appropriate clothes and food and spoke on the phone with the Sidiqqis to make them feel welcome.
“Everyone learns and takes a humble approach knowing that they have served our country and protected not only my husband but many others,” Heidi said.
While Ahmad could have left at any time over the past few years – and despite Scott begging him to leave – Scott said Ahmad chose to stay because he wanted to rebuild his country. While Ahmad is disappointed with the Afghan government, he is excited about a new chapter in Broomfield.
“His comment to us was, ‘The United States has done all it can. My country has not stepped up. I am ready to be an American, ”Scott said.
Heidi said the Broomfield Community Foundation, the City and County of Broomfield, A Precious Child and The Refuge were meeting on Monday to discuss how best to coordinate efforts.
It is estimated that the state of Colorado will host around 800 refugee families in the coming months. Heidi said Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains is looking for host families and teenage friends to help with the relocation process. For more information visit lfsrm.org/afghan-refugees/.