‘A happy ending’: Afghan family reunited in NY

Written by CNN Staff

This story is part of CNN’s Call Me Home series which brings to light the journeys of migrants around the world.

It’s a tearful reunion. An Afghan refugee in New York City has come home. And he’s bringing his dad with him.

Closed for years, the city’s largest refugee center for Afghan families is looking on as 18-year-old Gulnaz treats her father Farman to a face-to-face meeting for the first time in more than five years.

Farman caught wind that Gulnaz had made it to the city from her former refugee camp in Iran in a bid to reunite with her father for the first time in four years. When she arrived last week to meet her dad at the New York Center for Afghan Refugees, she had no idea he was already waiting for her inside the building.

“My father is the most important person in my life,” Gulnaz says as she welcomes her father to the center — at one point putting her arm around his shoulder.

Gulnaz Rasul on her journey to meet her father in New York City. Credit: Frank Lennon, [email protected]

During the past five years, Farman had been getting by for himself in the last person to leave their family home in Afghanistan’s Ghazni province. Relatives who had been deported to Pakistan came to him as a last resort, despite his hardships — raising him to become a mechanic in search of a better life.

He’s been lost in that search for what Gulnaz calls the past half-decade — a period in which he fled both Afghanistan and Iran.

Gulnaz’s quest to visit her father in New York City took a hard turn when she realized that she didn’t speak a word of the Dari language spoken by her father. They finally got their chance when a translator translated one conversation between the duo from the father’s Pashto language into Dari.

The Afghan men meet outside the New York Center for Afghan Refugees. Credit: Frank Lennon, [email protected]

Gulnaz tells her father that the only reason she’s made it to the U.S. is because “this place is so good.” She gives him a small bundle of goods — a jacket, a spare pair of shoes, a blanket — to begin the journey home. She heads to her host family’s apartment.

The reunion is dramatic and emotional as the two wait for Farman to finish his shift at a nearby barbershop before they drive off together, landing, happily, in Farman’s hometown.

“Everything this child needs is available here,” the translator says as Gulnaz struggles to hold back tears. “This is a happy ending to this story.”

*CNN’s Call Me Home: See the story of Europe’s efforts to stem migrant tide for the next two weeks.

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