Local Couple Plays Role Helping People Flee Afghanistan
By Allie Martin
ITAWAMBA COUNTY, MISS. (WCBI) – A Northeast Mississippi couple has helped coordinate safe passage out of Afghanistan for Americans and civilians who helped the US during the war effort.
The plight of the refugees was a personal mission for the Itawamba County couple.
As a Marine embedded with a training team in Afghanistan, Dr. Greg Yarbrough knew the vital role interpreters played for the United States.
“They were organic, if we hadn’t had the interpreters, nothing would have worked,” Dr. Yarbrough said.
So, when Dr. Yarbrough saw that Kabul had fallen into Taliban hands, he thought of his Daud, an interpreter Yarbrough, and his wife, Kelly, have stayed in contact with over the years, through social media. When the Yarbroughs found out Daud was trapped in Afghanistan, they took action.
“We knew, from my wife, through her contacts on Facebook and contacts with military spouses, she had a ready source she could start reaching back to from that side, to find out who is working the problem from that end, and to find out who we could contact with somebody who is on the ground in Kabul,” he said.
Dr. Yarbrough contacted State Representative Donnie Bell, who brought in Senators Roger Wicker, Cindy Hyde-Smith and Congressman Trent Kelly, who helped get Daud’s information to the State Department.
Last week, Daud was able to get on a flight out of Afghanistan, but that was only the beginning.
“We were a part of being able to save four families that night,” Mrs. Yarbrough said.
Using their newfound network, the Yarbroughs have been able to help others leave Afghanistan. However, they know of about 200 Americans and Afghans still in the country, looking for a way out.
Now, the focus has changed from evacuation, to helping those who have been able to get out, in most cases with only the clothes on their backs.
Once again, the effort is being carried out by ad hoc networks of people who want to help.
“They are being in charge of getting Amazon lists done, getting diapers, formula, prayer rugs, clothing, whatever you can possibly think of, and that’s for just first day coming in, nothing to do with resettlement, that’s a whole other phase,” she said.
The Yarbroughs say there are ways to help, and they encourage people to contact established non profits such as Catholic Charities, The American Red Cross and Team Rubicon, who are all coordinating relief efforts for those fleeing Afghanistan.
Kelly Yarbrough says people can also contact her directly and she will help them get in touch with legitimate relief efforts. Her email is email@example.com