Omid, left, and Nasir walk on a path winding through farm fields near their homes in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.

In the fall of 2021, a family from Afghanistan was resettled in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. This is the story of how they rebuilt their lives, the community that welcomed them, and a friendship that bridged two cultures.

CAPE ELIZABETH, Maine — Last November, at about midnight, Omid was lying in bed in his new home in Cape Elizabeth, Maine — exhausted, but unable to sleep. He texted Nasir Shir, his old friend from Afghanistan who lived down the street. Was Nasir awake, and was he up for a walk?

Nasir was awake; he often stays up late to talk to friends and relatives in Afghanistan, nine and a half hours ahead. On this night, and on many nights during Omid’s first few months in Maine, Nasir was soon at his door. The two men set off. Under the night sky, they passed driveways with basketball hoops, porches with American flags, and the occasional boat parked in someone’s yard.

Omid and Nasir had met in 2004 on the site of an international development project in Kabul. At that point, Nasir had been living in the US for 20 years, but his work in geographic information systems took him all over the world, and sometimes back to Afghanistan, for international development contracts. Omid, 14 years younger, was an IT specialist.

A deep friendship began, and the two stayed close. When Nasir’s family would pass through Kabul, Omid would host them. “Anyone who travels to Afghanistan goes to his house,” Nasir told me. “He’s the ticket agent, the hotel, and the food place.” Omid got to know Nasir’s extended family — “cousins, uncles, aunts, everybody.” The two men share a similar sense of humor and laughter comes easily when they’re together.

When the Taliban regained control of Afghanistan weeks before the planned US withdrawal, Omid fled with his wife and their four young children.

Nasir urged them to come to Cape Elizabeth. “I warned him about the cold weather, and that there are not many Muslims there,” Nasir said. He also talked up its virtues. “I said: ‘If you want to make money, don’t come to Maine. But if you want to raise your family, come to Maine.'”

But it wasn’t just Nasir who welcomed Omid. The whole town had. In the weeks before Omid’s family arrived, …read more

Source:: Business Insider


How small-town Maine embraced a family that fled the Taliban

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