Dozens of Afghan refugees celebrate Thanksgiving at Uptown restaurant

There was a very special celebration in Uptown for 40 Afghan refugees who escaped Taliban Rule during the chaotic withdrawal of U.S. troops in August.

Among them was Afia Jamal, who worked as a translator and made one of the flights, but was separated from her family at the Kabul airport. 

"I wanted to come to America, but not the way that it happened," she said.

Jamal holds a bachelor's degree and worked as an English translator in Kabul. 

She was one of the lucky ones who made it onto a flight in late August.  

"When I showed my paperwork to the soldier, he just took my hand and just pulled me inside the door," Jamal said.  "It was a scary journey. I never even imagined it. Now, I'm thankful. And I feel appreciated, being here."

On Tuesday, Jamal and 40 other refugees were the guests of honor for Thanksgiving Dinner — turkey, green beans, dinner rolls, all the fixings — at Golden House restaurant in Uptown, where Mayor Lightfoot and other local politicians played host.


"We want them to know that they are welcome," said Rep. Jesus "Chuy" Garcia. "They will contribute to our community... they, too, will become part of our families and our communities."

Jamal says under the Taliban, she would never have the opportunities she does in the U.S., and for that, she is grateful.  

"This Thanksgiving, I feel thankful of being here. Because I came out of Afghanistan, it's a big thing for me. And I'm thankful for the U.S. Government for providing such fortune for us, especially for women and kids," Jamal said. "And I see for myself a bright future."

While Tuesday was this group's first Thanksgiving in America, the refugees and their hosts are hoping it will be the first of many.