Let’s Work Together

We Can Make a Difference When we all Work Together

by Kim Hemmert

A really difficult situation is a lot better because of the intervention of community resources and the amazing resilience of a survivor who is not giving up—no matter what.  Although she has lost a lot, she is going to keep fighting for what matters—her children.

Sahar came from Afghanistan to Boise with her US Air Force husband in 2014.  Although she initially felt welcome, she quickly realized that she was in an abusive relationship. Her husband was violent and exercised control over her. Things got worse when she discovered he was having an affair. When she confronted him about it, “He beat me. I went to a neighbor’s house; they called police and he went to jail. When he got out of jail, he was really nice, and I believed that he’d changed. He convinced me that we should visit my mom in Afghanistan.” Once back in Afghanistan, he took their two boys, Sahar’s papers and documents, and disappeared. She hasn’t seen him or her two boys since.

She was abandoned in a country without any identification, and experienced extreme emotions of anger and grief from not knowing where her children were and whether or not they were safe. All she wanted was to find her children and return home to the United States because she was terrified that her husband would pay someone to kill her. Sahar says, “Being in the US was good. They gave me rights that my country never gave me.”

After getting her documents reprinted, she was able to secure an emergency visa and return to the US in 2018.  Once back in Boise, she worked with the CATCH program to secure safe and stable housing and the Women’s and Children’s Alliance (WCA) provided case management. She has been bolstered by the Safe Families program through Lutheran Community Services Northwest. The Safe Families program helped Sahar with concrete resources like food and childcare so that she can attend appointments and care for her recently born baby.

Although, Sahar has experienced much adversity in her life from cultural disruption in her home country to domestic violence and abandonment, she has demonstrated amazing resilience.

Safe Families has increased her resilience and provided social connections and concrete supports where she needed it the most. She says, “I am surrounded by examples of strong women. That makes me feel strong and motivated to work hard and support myself and my baby.”

Her advice to others?  “It’s hard to lose your kids. Keep going, work hard, and don’t think too much about the loss. Domestic violence is not easy to forget but try to forgive and keep going. Find something to busy yourself with. Find something that makes you happy.”

We are grateful for Sahar’s willingness to share her story, and to all those at Lutheran Community Services Northwest Safe Families Program, WCA and CATCH who have assisted her along the way to increase her resilience, concrete supports, and social connections. When we work together, we can build strong, resilient individuals, families, and communities in Idaho.

–Lutheran Community Services Northwest Safe Families Program is a current ICTF annual grant recipient and the CATCH Program is a former recipient.