Kansas City woman whose family fled Afghanistan heartbroken after Taliban takeover

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — One metro woman’s family fled Afghanistan when the Taliban first took hold in the 1980s. Now, she anxiously watches her homeland fall to the same terrorist group, a day she hoped she would never see.

Mariya Goodbrake’s parents got her family out of the country, and over the years she was glad to see progress, now she said it’s heartbreaking watching progress falling apart.

For Goodbrake it’s a life she will never know in a country she’s never been to. Her father, mother, and sisters fled the country when the Taliban took over. Her oldest sister was five.

“I was raised in Iran, a product of displacement, born and raised in a country – in a soil that I already knew I didn’t belong,” Goodbrake said.

Her family went to India, and finally settled in Canada. Then she found her way to Kansas City. In high school she experienced 9/11 and watched as war raged across the Middle East. Now, the Taliban is back, and U.S. troops are moving out.

“A day of mourning, a day of grieving, and really trying to understand what tomorrow will look like for the Afghan people,” Goodbrake said.

Democracy crumbled to the Taliban over the past ten days. People flooding the airports trying to escape, including the President of Afghanistan, and progress seemingly reversed instantly for a generation of women.

“Some girls probably already on the process of getting some of their degrees, and the dreams an hopes of what they could be as women, and some of those dreams are shattered,” Goodbrake said.

President Joe Biden addressed the nation Monday after returning from monitoring the situation from Camp David saying the war will not continue.

“We gave them every chance to determine their own future. What we could not provide them was the will to fight for their future,” Biden said.

“I believe a lot of the soldiers didn’t go there just for revenge. I believe the American soldiers went there because they believed in democracy and the right for Afghan people to live in security, and dignity, and safety. For them to minimize 20 years of efforts to say that it was solely for one mission – I think it robs the sacrifice and dignity of so many Afghans and Americans who sacrificed so much for the Afghan nation,” Goodbrake said.

Goodbrake says her life experience is helping refugee children here in Kansas City through her non-profit, Global FC. She hopes she may be able to help a few more kids heading from Afghanistan to the U.S.

“I love that the mayor and the city is open to be able to receive them, and I think that we just need to lean into how best we can support them here as Kansas Citians,” Goodbrake said.

Goodbrake said she still has family in Afghanistan. She got word Monday afternoon her cousin was able to make it onto one of the plans coming out of the country, and landed in California safely.

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