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'They fear their lives back in Afghanistan;' local woman worries about future of her family abroad

Afghan crisis hits close to home for one local resident
Posted at 10:26 PM, Aug 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-19 23:26:34-04

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WTVF) — Manija Orya, her mother, and stepfather call Franklin home, but Orya's Afghan roots run deep.

“From my mother’s side I have my grandfather still back there, her brother as well, a couple other brothers, their mom as well, so mostly from my mom’s side that’s there. I also have my biological father back home as well,” she said.

Communication has been difficult.

“Ever since the situation occurred I was extremely worried of everything that’s happening. I tried to contact them and, of course, I couldn’t get a hold of anybody.”

It’s only through other relatives that she learned her father is ok, but she knows that could change at any moment.

“They fear their lives back in Afghanistan, yes, because of the fact that the Taliban are there,” said Orya.

She worries about women like her whose lives may never be the same. “We’re living where we go to work, I go to work, I go to school, I study, I’m getting that successful education that I’m trying to attempt to get. That other girl in Afghanistan or other women or female should also be able to do all of these things that I’m doing.”

Many have tried to flee the country in desperation, some of her family may do the same. “They said that they’re going to try to escape tonight," she said. "We’re not sure exactly when and how it’s going to happen. Hopefully, they get out safely because the Taliban are actually at the airport, the Kabul airport, trying to control who goes in and who goes out.”

Now she’s making a plea to the U.S. government, in hopes families like hers can escape.

“I want them to come out safely, I want them to be able to come to the U.S. or come to the Canadian border, wherever they may be, just as far away as the Taliban as possible,” said Orya.

Until then, she's holding out hope.

A peaceful rally is expected to take place Sunday in Nashville "to show support and raise awareness about the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan". It's set to take place on Capitol Hill from 3:00-6:00 p.m.