18-year-old Afghan refugee follows her dreams after finding home in Sacramento

Local News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — As the Taliban increases their control over citizens trapped within Afghanistan, refugees who made it to Sacramento are telling their stories of survival and triumph.

A pastor at River City Christian in Sacramento introduced FOX40 to 18-year-old Mehreya Alizada, who left Afghanistan two years ago. 

After four long years of waiting to be approved to come to the United States, Alizada and her family are finally here and thriving.

“My favorite thing to do is drawing. I really like to draw,” Alizada said.

Aside from her love of art, Alizada loves caring for others and has big dreams of becoming a surgeon. She currently attends nursing school at American River College.

But as she embarks on her newfound freedom in the U.S., Alizada is horrified to see the Taliban take more control over their country every day. She said she fears for the young men and women who are unable to escape.

“Right now, Taliban say that women can’t go to school or university, they just have to be home,” Alizada said. “We actually cried a lot for the people that are now dying.”

Alizada remembers how difficult life was for her and her family before they arrived two years ago from Afghanistan. 

“We were afraid of Taliban, that maybe they were going to … our life was in danger,” she explained.

“Her father actually had been wounded by the Taliban,” said Pastor Mark Shetler. “He had been targeted because of his work, his cooperation with U.S. forces, and he was attacked by the Taliban. Actually has shrapnel in his head ‘till this day.”

Shetler was one of the first people to meet and care for Alizada and her family. He was so moved by their story he made it his goal to make them feel right at home. 

“The mother had never had the opportunity to see the ocean before, and so we were able to take our church bus and drive them to Bodega Bay,” Shetler told FOX40. 

While spending time with dozens of Afghan refugee families like Alizada’s, Shetler said he hopes the community understands how important it is to welcome them to Sacramento. 

“They are here wanting to contribute to the country that has helped them out, and at the same time though, they are incredibly sad that their homeland is falling apart,” Shetler said. 

As Alizada continues to work hard toward her dreams, she is asking for a favor from the community.

“I want them to pray for Afghanistan and help them,” she said.

River City Christian is providing Afghan refugees job services, women’s integration classes and ESL courses, which greatly helped Alizada and her family.

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