Three months in the past, Zabiullah R., who served as a fight translator for the 82nd Airborne in Afghanistan, didn’t know what would occur to him and his household after the U.S. army withdrawal.   

Zabiullah, affectionately identified by troops as Johnny, was capable of escape Kabul in August, with the assistance of a U.S. senator, a personal veterans group, and members of the 82nd Airborne. Johnny arrived together with his household at his new North Carolina dwelling again in October.   

Today, his younger daughters are already getting one thing they by no means would have acquired below the Taliban: an training.   

Johnny and his family inside Rea View Elementary.

Johnny and his household inside Rea View Elementary.
(Courtesy of Sarah Verardo)


“They’re happy and they’re excited,” stated Johnny. “Every morning … 6 o’clock in the morning, my two daughters, they wake up and get ready … just come into my room and wake up us.”  

Johnny says the women even ask to go on weekends.  

“I tell them, like ‘two days off, you have to stay home’,” stated Johnny. “They keep asking, ‘We want to go to school, we like school. We have friends back school. We want to play with them. We want to meet them.'”  

His daughters have been welcomed at their new college in Weddington, North Carolina, and embraced by the neighborhood, the place lots of the troopers Johnny as soon as served alongside now live.   

Students and households at Rea View Elementary college waited in anticipation for Johnny, his spouse, and his three women with hand-made indicators and greetings written in Dari.  

Classmates and local families greet daughters of Afghan interpreter.

Classmates and native households greet daughters of Afghan interpreter.
(Courtesy of Sarah Verardo)

“The moment they pulled up, it got to be so quiet like you could hear a pin drop. And the girls get out of the car, and they walked up, and, of course, they were smiling, beaming ear to ear,” recounted Jennifer Parker, principal at Rea View Elementary School. “And my families and kids just were waving and saying hello in their native language.”  

They play soccer on the identical staff because the daughters of Sgt. Mike Verardo and his spouse, Sarah.   

Johnny holds 508th Infantry Regiment flag with wounded veteran Mike Verardo.

Johnny holds 508th Infantry Regiment flag with wounded veteran Mike Verardo.
(Courtesy of Sarah Verardo)

Johnny served as a translator for Verardo, who misplaced his leg in Afghanistan’s Arghandab Valley in 2010 and suffered a traumatic mind harm. Mike has undergone greater than 100 surgical procedures at Walter Reed after serving with the 508th Infantry Regiment, an airborne infantry regiment of the United States Army, first fashioned in October 1942 throughout World War II. Both Mike and Johnny every have three daughters.  

Now, they’re neighbors, and their daughters are finest mates.   

“Seeing our six girls play together, six little girls whose dads served together, shoulder-to-shoulder in Afghanistan, has healed all of our hearts a little bit more each day,” stated Sarah Verardo, Mike’s spouse and CEO of The Independence Fund and Co-Founder of Save our Allies. “These children are an example to all about what it means to love all people.” 

Their women went trick-or-treating for the first time and now have play dates after college.  

Muzhdah, Muzhgan, and Asra trick-or-treating with their new American friends.

Muzhdah, Muzhgan, and Asra trick-or-treating with their new American mates.
(Courtesy of Sarah Verardo)

“That was actually the first Halloween in the United States. They were so excited,” stated Johnny. “They went to the Halloween party and house-to-house to meet other kids and families.”  

Muzhdah, 7, and Muzhgan, 5, didn’t converse a phrase of English once they arrived in school.  

“Google Translate doesn’t have Dari on it, so it’s been an experience with that. So, a lot of hand gestures, pictures. I feel like we’re playing a game of charades on a daily basis. But it’s little things to get them to understand. And now they’ve started to understand,” stated Parker. “Last week, Muzhdah actually said a full sentence in English.”  

Her first sentence?  

“‘I like pizza.] Yes, Muzhdah loves pizza,” recalled Parker.   

Parker says Muzhdah and Muzhgan take nothing for granted. 

Muzghan with her sisters at school.

Muzghan along with her sisters in school.

“Sometimes kids are like, ‘Oh, I don’t feel good, I don’t want to go to school.’ And to them, it’s such a privilege. And so, getting to come into school every day and learn, especially as a girl, they are just so excited and are little sponges,” stated Parker. “We talk a lot about gratitude and especially this time of year. This truly exemplifies how grateful that family is.”  

Johnny says his daughters are embracing their newfound freedoms.  

“A hijab … [Muzhdah] said, I’m not going to do that. I want to be more free. I’m going to live in freedom,” stated Johnny.  


This Thanksgiving one Afghan household has introduced a lot pleasure to this North Carolina neighborhood who opened their hearts and helped them begin their new life in America.  

“I’m grateful to be safe here,” stated Johnny. “I’m grateful for this first Thanksgiving I’m here with my family.”