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Commentary | Oct. 18, 2022

OAW Hosts Inspirational Speaker at Afghan Safe Haven in Leesburg, VA

By From DHS Connect

Since August 2021, at the direction of President Biden, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has served as the lead federal agency for Operation Allies Welcome (OAW). Since that time, approximately 88,500 Afghan nationals have arrived in the U.S. as part of this DHS-led effort. Although OAW ended Sep. 30 along with the closing of the last OAW safe haven facility in Leesburg, Virginia, Afghan nationals continue their resettlement process in the U.S. For many, this journey has been promising and filled with hope, but here, we share the resettlement journey of Mina Sediqi.

Last month, Sediqi ​spoke to newly arrived Afghan women at the Safe Haven in Leesburg about her resettlement experience since her evacuation to the United States from Afghanistan in August of 2021. Since March of 2022, the National Conference Center (NCC) in Leesburg has served as a safe haven for arriving Afghan evacuees. 

Since arriving last year, Sediqi has worked as an intern with a non-profit in Dallas, and is continuing her college education at Arizona State University on a full scholarship. In Leesburg, she gave her audience an unvarnished view of beginning a new life in the United States, without the support of her parents and siblings, who remain in Afghanistan. She described how her mother's encouragement, even from afar, has kept her chasing her dreams for a new life. She discussed the importance of learning English and advised the women to find people who want to help and support their career and educational endeavors through professional networks. The Afghan women at the NCC shared their desires to continue their education and start careers and Mina's example was inspirational and useful to the women at the NCC. 

Sediqi finished her program by answering audience questions about careers in tech, undergraduate and post graduate education and moving forward with life in the United States. The audience of mostly women enthusiastically received Mina's encouraging message and warmly surrounded her at the conclusion of her remarks. Sediqi's visit to the NCC was supported by her internship organization, the Cyber Future Foundation. 

For more information about OAW, visit: ​