Illuminating Human Rights: Afghanistan

Illuminating Human Rights Podcast#11: Afghanistan

Host & Director: Michelle Lee

We are excited to share the first episode of Illuminating Human Rights, a podcast in association with the Luminus Network for New Americans that highlights the stories of refugees and immigrants and seeks to change the narrative around immigration. Join us in a discussion surrounding the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan through the lens of our guests as we explore their journeys of resettlement and advocacy.

Our first guest Wali Zadran, a refugee who evacuated Kabul following the Taliban’s recent insurrection, describes his journey of resettlement to Maryland. In Afghanistan, Wali had a stable job working with international organizations.

He states “there was freedom of speech, right to education, schools were open for women and girls. Everyone was striving to achieve professional development and also building our personal lives . . . we were able to dream out about our lives and country, to make plans and achieve things.”

All this changed after the United States military retreated from Afghanistan in August of 2021 and the Taliban regained control of the country. The Taliban disturbed the lives of Afghan citizens and imposed many restrictions on them. Wali considers himself lucky to have been evacuated and he hopes for the well-being of others who continue to face devastating conditions in Afghanistan.

Our second guest is Shakera Rahimi, the Afghan Alliance coordinator at Luminus, who has been working on integrating Afghans into their new communities within Maryland. Shakera left Kabul in 2014 after being granted a Special Immigration Visa. After recognizing her own personal struggles during the  resettlement process, Shakera wanted to devote her time and effort assisting refugees going through similar hardships. Refugees often face similar challenges as they arrive to the United States without much preparation.

“It is challenging to start life all over again in a new country, where the language, culture, and expectations are so different, and where your previous education, experience, and qualifications may not be recognized. Especially if you’re still dealing with the trauma of violence, threats, sudden separation, and great loss. It’s not easy to imagine that when you arrive in the new country . . . no employer recognizes your credentials, so you have to start again at the bottom of the job ladder.”

Shakera also describes the interrelated needs of newly arrived refugees including housing, employment, transportation, and English skills. Non-profits, such as Luminus, can mitigate some of these challenges by providing services such as English classes, assistance in school enrollment, and medical care among many other programs.

Visit for more information on advocacy and involvement with the issues discussed in each episode. For any inquiries about the podcast contact,