Mukhtar and Sharifa Ahmad and their three children are refugees from war-torn Afghanistan who have been in Dallas just 18 days. Monday morning the family returned from an outing to discover they had been the victims of a crime. Now they are scared and facing “big problems.”
Mukhtar Ahmad, who worked in Afghanistan as an interpreter for the United States Army, his wife and three daughters (ages 15, 13 and 9) live in the Indigo apartments on Forest near Audelia. The family left the apartment at 8 a.m. to enroll the girls in Richardson ISD schools. When they returned at 11:30, they found their front door broken and everything they owned stolen, including their life savings of $5,000, with which Mukhtar planned to purchase a vehicle to drive to work.
“We saw our door is opened, so I understood some people entered my house,” Mukhtar says.
His first instinct was to protect his family from a criminal who might still be inside, so while they waited outside, he searched the apartment. His next thought was about his money. The $5,000 was everything he had; some of it was borrowed from family in Afghanistan, so he could start his life and be safe, he says.
“I rushed toward my money box, first. When I checked it, there was no money. For a minute I sat down, beside the box and I thought, my God, I lost everything. My wife called out to me and asked about the money, and then she stared crying she said, ‘Oh God, what happened to us?”
A few days earlier, the Ahmads had taken advantage of a Black Friday sale and purchased a television. The crooks stole that too.
Mukhtar and his family are one in 72 Afghan refugees who have resettled in Dallas, according to Anne Marie Weiss-Armush, president of DFW International Community Alliance. She says the Afghanis are the largest refugee population reaching the DFW this year. Approximately 100 refugee families resettled in Dallas during 2015. The Ahmads are here because of Mukhtar’s work with the U.S. military.
“I had warnings from the Taliban for working with the U.S. Army and decided I had to get my family safe,” he says.
Weiss-Armush says Mukhtar saved the lives of countless American soldiers. “He worked hand in hand with our sons and neighbors,” she says. “What a tragedy that his family become the victims of violence when they finally reach the U.S.”
Mukhtar says he still thanks God that he and his family are in America.
He says that with help from other Afghan families living at the Indigo, he filed a police report and hopes the thieves might be caught.
He says if he could talk to the burglar or burglars, he would implore them to stop — stop hurting others, and stop putting themselves in danger.
“I want to advise this thief to stop. Don’t do this. Don’t destroy people’s lives,” Mukhtar says. “Now we are faced with big problems. And one day he will be killed by someone when they catch him. Go get a job and find a safe life, so you don’t lose your life.”
He adds that his wife and three daughters are now fearful in their new home.
“Nothing like this ever happened to us and we will never forget it,” he says. “Last night my children didn’t sleep normal because they are scared.”
Weiss-Armush says the Indigo apartments are located in the second most crime-infested area of the City of Dallas (which police confirm). But, she adds, refugees have been settled in Indigo Apartments for 20 years. “Although the neighborhood is very dangerous — prostitution, drugs, murders — Indigo is a safe haven for refugee families.”
Those who would like to help the Ahmad family may send a tax-deductible check to DFW International Community Alliance, 9064 Stone Creek Place, Dallas TX 75243 and note that it is for the Ahmads.
Or deposit a check at BBVA Compass, account #23867737 in the name of DFW International Community Alliance.