17 episodes

We saw it on the news. The images still haunt us.

Two years ago this month, a desperate sea of humanity rushed the Kabul airport as the American military started mass evacuations in Afghanistan. Many were left behind to face the Taliban, while some escaped to countries like Iran and Pakistan. 

For over 80,000 refugees, America is now home. Their lives continue, but our news feeds have moved on, blasting stories about today’s crisis-du-jour. Now these evacuees live beside us, trying to make ends meet, find housing, gain acceptance, adapt to a new culture, and become valued members of our communities.

In Stranger Becomes Neighbor, we follow them. And we meet the Americans who have chosen to help their new neighbors. Like the stay-at-home mom who convinces a neighbor to rent out their basement to a pregnant Afghan woman, then finds herself helping to deliver the baby. Like a young widow who served in a secret pro-American unit of the Afghan military and now struggles to find childcare so she can work at Walmart.

Their stories – and the heartbreaking stories of loved ones left behind – inspire us to discover the hope and triumph of the human spirit.

What can one person do to help a stranger? 

We find out on a new podcast from KSL Podcasts, the people who brought you Cold and The Letter.

Coming soon, Stranger Becomes Neighbor

Stranger Becomes Neighbor KSL Podcasts

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.9 • 38 Ratings

Listen on Apple Podcasts
Requires subscription and macOS 11.4 or higher

We saw it on the news. The images still haunt us.

Two years ago this month, a desperate sea of humanity rushed the Kabul airport as the American military started mass evacuations in Afghanistan. Many were left behind to face the Taliban, while some escaped to countries like Iran and Pakistan. 

For over 80,000 refugees, America is now home. Their lives continue, but our news feeds have moved on, blasting stories about today’s crisis-du-jour. Now these evacuees live beside us, trying to make ends meet, find housing, gain acceptance, adapt to a new culture, and become valued members of our communities.

In Stranger Becomes Neighbor, we follow them. And we meet the Americans who have chosen to help their new neighbors. Like the stay-at-home mom who convinces a neighbor to rent out their basement to a pregnant Afghan woman, then finds herself helping to deliver the baby. Like a young widow who served in a secret pro-American unit of the Afghan military and now struggles to find childcare so she can work at Walmart.

Their stories – and the heartbreaking stories of loved ones left behind – inspire us to discover the hope and triumph of the human spirit.

What can one person do to help a stranger? 

We find out on a new podcast from KSL Podcasts, the people who brought you Cold and The Letter.

Coming soon, Stranger Becomes Neighbor

Listen on Apple Podcasts
Requires subscription and macOS 11.4 or higher

    Ep 1 - Welcome to Your New Home

    Ep 1 - Welcome to Your New Home

    An ambitious 16-year-old girl has graduated two years early from her high school in Afghanistan. She is ready to take the medical school entrance exam to pursue her dream of being a doctor, but she never gets the chance. In August of 2021, the Taliban regains power and she and her family rushe to the Kabul airport. She is one of the lucky ones who makes it through the gate, but when she looks around, she realizes her parents didn’t make it. She, her sister and 4-year-old niece are evacuated to the U.S. All alone, they arrive on a snowy night to a cold, dark apartment with no power. This is the story of how well we helped our newest neighbors and the conditions that more than 80,000 refugees would be facing because of reduced resources. 

    For more information including pictures and a transcript of this episode, visit us at kslpodcasts.com.

    For more on Hope4Afghanistan, visit the website: hope4afghanistan.org

    Joining KSL Podcasts Premium is a great way to support our show and to get our bonus content. Subscribe today on Apple Podcasts.

    Stranger Becomes Neighbor is sponsored by Better Help.

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 39 min
    Ep 2 - A Personal Connection

    Ep 2 - A Personal Connection

    Their father killed by the Taliban, a girl and her family fled to Pakistan then America, but this happened more than 20 years ago. Now, Nazifa is using her own experience as a refugee to help hundreds of Afghans who were part of the mass exodus when the U.S. military pulled out of the country in 2021. But she is only one person and the need is immense. Who will step up to help? 

    For more information including pictures and a transcript of this episode, visit us at kslpodcasts.com.

    For more on Hope4Afghanistan, visit the website: hope4afghanistan.org

    Joining KSL Podcasts premium is a great way to support our show and to get our bonus content. Subscribe today on Apple Podcasts.

    Stranger Becomes Neighbor is sponsored by Better Help.
    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 48 min
    Ep 3 - Sisterhood of Embroidery and Artillery

    Ep 3 - Sisterhood of Embroidery and Artillery

    Looking at a young woman in a headscarf quietly ringing up groceries at Walmart, you would never know the dramatic life she has lived. During the war in Afghanistan, the US military trained a small, elite force of Afghan women called the Female Tactical Platoon (FTP) to serve alongside American special forces on dangerous night raids of suspected Taliban homes and compounds.

    These female soldiers had to keep their work secret, even from their own neighbors, because they were not safe in their own country. And when the Taliban took control, there was no plan in place to protect them.

    That's when US soldiers - mostly women - who trained and worked with the FTPs decided they would have to be the ones to get this highly endangered group out of Afghanistan. They call themselves Sisters of Service.

    This week on Stranger Becomes Neighbor, we follow the path of one remarkable Afghan soldier and the sisterhood that stands by her side. 

    For more information including pictures and a transcript of this episode, visit us at kslpodcasts.com.

    For more on Hope4Afghanistan, visit the website: hope4afghanistan.org.

    And find Sisters of Service at https://sistersofservice.org/

    For more information on the PenFed Foundation’s Afghan Rescue and Resettlement program, visit penfedfoundation.org.

    Joining KSL Podcasts premium is a great way to support our show and to get our bonus content. Subscribe today on Apple Podcasts.

    Stranger Becomes Neighbor is sponsored by Better Help.

     
    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 51 min
    Ep 4 - Bridging the Gap

    Ep 4 - Bridging the Gap

    When thousands of Afghans arrived in US communities in a short time frame, the refugee agencies were challenged to meet the needs of the evacuees. It fell on regular Americans to try to fill in the gaps.

    This story follows the efforts of two especially driven volunteers: one a former refugee herself, the other a stay-at-home mother of five. They reach the limits of what they can do alone, and try to figure out how to build a network big enough to meet all the needs they see. In the beginning, many people wanted to help, but as time goes by and other events take over the news, they find American attention and interest in Afghans is waning. 

    For more information including pictures and a transcript of this episode, visit us at kslpodcasts.com.

    For more on Hope4Afghanistan, visit the website: hope4afghanistan.org.

    And find Sisters of Service at https://sistersofservice.org/

    For more information on the PenFed Foundation’s Afghan Rescue and Resettlement program, visit penfedfoundation.org.

    Joining KSL Podcasts Premium is a great way to support our show and to get our bonus content. Subscribe today on Apple Podcasts.

    Stranger Becomes Neighbor is sponsored by Better Help.
    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 53 min
    Ep 5 - The Need for Friendship

    Ep 5 - The Need for Friendship

    Americans know very little about the Afghan special forces known as the Zero Units who were instrumental to the war on terror in Afghanistan, but now they’re living among us in America. One of these Afghan veterans has a family of four with another baby on the way, and they are in desperate need of a home. A neighborhood pulls together to help them, even though it means moving them far from refugee services. The neighbors pour their time and energy into the family, with at least a dozen people helping them on a regular basis, and donations coming from all directions.

    But what about all the other refugees who aren’t getting this help? We find another family in a similar situation. The father is a veteran who served in the Zero Units and they are also expecting a baby. But this family recently received an eviction notice, and they don’t know where they will live when the baby comes.

    For more information including pictures and a transcript of this episode, visit us at kslpodcasts.com.

    For more on Hope4Afghanistan, visit the website: hope4afghanistan.org.

    Joining KSL Podcasts Premium is a great way to support our show and to get our bonus content. Subscribe today on Apple Podcasts.

    Stranger Becomes Neighbor is sponsored by Better Help.

     
    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 55 min
    Ep 6 - Small Hands

    Ep 6 - Small Hands

    After more than a year in America, 5-year-old Ava - who we met earlier in the podcast - is still living with her aunts in Salt Lake City, while her parents remain in Afghanistan. The urgency to bring them to the U.S. is underscored by a terrifying visit by the Taliban.

    Meanwhile, the family’s future in America, along with most of the Afghans who were evacuated to the US remains uncertain. They apply for asylum but don’t know whether they will get an answer before the temporary humanitarian parole allowing them to live in the U.S. expires. Will they be sent back to the country they fled for their lives? A volunteer in the neighborhood who they call “Mom” is determined to help the family. She joins forces with US military veterans and faith-based groups to advocate for passage of legislation in Congress. 

    Also in this episode, we get updates on others we’ve been following in this podcast including Sima, the soldier from the Female Tactical Platoon. She meets a lawyer who volunteers to help her with her asylum application. And Sima gets an opportunity that is too good to pass up, but it means saying good-bye to the friends she’s made in Utah.

    For more information including pictures and a transcript of this episode, visit us at kslpodcasts.com.

    For more on Hope4Afghanistan, visit the website: hope4afghanistan.org.

    Joining KSL Podcasts Premium is a great way to support our show and to get our bonus content. Subscribe today on Apple Podcasts.

    Stranger Becomes Neighbor is sponsored by Better Help.
    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 58 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
38 Ratings

38 Ratings

USA Mknitter ,

This brings back my memories—but in the reverse

My family (including 2 young children) lived in Southeast Asia for 3 years in the late 1980’s. We were in adult physical bodies but were babies in that culture. We were extremely grateful for our great and caring neighbors who took us “under their wings” who could explain the cultural differences to us and who were patient and looked out for our safety — our physical characteristics made us stick out—but we learned so much in that country which helped us understand better some cross-cultural differences in our part of the US. My spouse’s prior military experience helped us to understand better what that Southeast Asian country was experiencing at that time. Thank you for explaining what your groups and friends are doing to assist these refugees (who helped our American military, of which our own 2 children who later enlisted in the US military and were stationed in the Middle East in about 2006-2010) in attempting to learn to live in a different culture—I relived my prior experience through your stories. Please bring us updates on their progress.

zia.abd10 ,

Fantastic!

It was super fantastic. I really appreciate your great work. I wish it was not single oriented (eg. not only focused on South Lake City). I feel so proud of Nazifa for all her fabulous work and our future cardiologist for her courage and hard work. I also want to contribute to an answer asked during the podcast. The source of hope is the time when brightness overcome the ignorance. And when true Afghan Soldiers rise again and Afghans’ true friends stand next to them, not leaving them behind.
Zai

mojonob ,

Always help

I do not think we will ever feel like we will do enough to help those in need. May we all keep helping & donating where we can. Beautiful heartbreaking stories.

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