Local attorney helps bring Afghan refugee family to Eugene

Bryan Boender, a Eugene attorney, is about to call his Afghan war buddy a neighbor.

Posted: Sep 9, 2021 8:11 PM
Updated: Sep 9, 2021 8:13 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Out of the chaos in Kabul, an Afghan family of six is finding refuge in Eugene, thanks to a local attorney and Catholic Community Services.

The world watched in fear as the Taliban took over last month. Tens of thousands of Afghans scrambled to flee their homeland. Some were lucky to escape and are now starting a new life in the states.

Bryan Boender, a Eugene attorney, is about to call his Afghan war buddy a neighbor.

"We were able to leverage our contacts with active-duty soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines to try and organize an effort to evacuate my friend, his wife and their four children, and we were successful in that," Boender said.

He said he received an email at about 4:30 a.m. on Aug. 24. The email said "Jackpot," following a picture of his friend and a marine commander who helped get the family out.

Boender served as an army paratrooper in Afghanistan in 2007 and 2008. His friend was the unit's interpreter.

"These men and women were instrumental in securing our safety by communicating intelligence to us in real-time in terms of what the locals were thinking and saying," Boender said. "If it weren't for interpreters like my friend, we wouldn't have been successful, we wouldn't have been able to do our job."

Boender said he hopes the family will arrive just in time to have a seat at his Thanksgiving dinner table, but they could be here even sooner.

"It's a gift and a blessing and a responsibility to have them," Boender said.

He hopes the community will welcome this family into Eugene as future Americans and Oregonians.

Christine Zeller-Powell with Catholic Community Services told KEZI 9 News they can't wait to welcome this family into Eugene.

"I think anybody who's been able to navigate the difficulties faced by someone in this situation of having to flee their home country and navigate administrative processes and all of that and still keep their bearings and hold it together is going to do well here," Zeller-Powell said.

Zeller-Powell said they've had a huge outpouring of help. You can go to their website if you'd like to get involved.

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