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After a risky escape, Afghan student begins a new life in the Ozarks

Afghan refugee
Jennifer Moore
/
KSMU
Mohammad Reza Hussaini, 19, is a student at Missouri State University in Springfield.

When the Taliban reclaimed power in Afghanistan, Mohammad Reza Hussaini said goodbye to his family and set out in haste for the border of Pakistan. His journey eventually led him to Springfield, Missouri.

Hussaini, 19, is seeking asylum in the United States after fleeing Afghanistan last year. He's living with a host family while he attends Missouri State University.

To hear more about his journey to the United States, click the "Listen" button above.

In Kabul, he volunteered with the U.S. Embassy, helping to secure the rights of women and children in Afghanistan, he said. When the Taliban reclaimed power, he bid farewell to his family and set out for the border of Pakistan. He says he was arrested by the Taliban but was released after one night.

Back in his home country of Afghanistan, Human Rights Watch says a humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding. One in every 10 newborn babies born there since January have died and 95% of the population does not have enough to eat, according to the organization.

The United States occupied Afghanistan for nearly 20 years, leaving abruptly last summer in a withdrawal that drew bipartisan criticism for its poor execution. Hussaini is the first in his family to attend college. The money he sends home from his part time job in Springfield is supporting his family for now.

As News Director, Jennifer oversees news gathering and production for KSMU-Ozarks Public Radio; in her role as Content Coordinator, she makes sure all programs on KSMU, including those produced locally, nationally, and internationally, flow seamlessly over the air. She trains the student reporters and announcers and hosts the monthly program Engaging the Community. Follow her on Twitter @jennwritesmoore.