HIAS PA’s 2023 Golden Door Awards
Nelofar Asadi fled to the United States as an unaccompanied minor during the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. She had a tumultuous journey—her family was at risk from the Taliban because of their activism for women’s rights. Nelofar herself was shot at by the Taliban and suffered an injured leg in the stampede at the airport in Kabul.
When Nelofar arrived in the United States as an unaccompanied minor, she was shuffled between a military base and multiple children’s shelters before she was transferred to a youth shelter here in Pennsylvania. There, she met Mary McCabe, HIAS PA’s Detained Children Program Supervisor. Mary and her team are working to help her win asylum and obtain permanent legal status in the United States.
Like all unaccompanied minors, Nelofar was completely alone.
Most children in youth immigration shelters are either released to their US sponsors or find themselves placed in the federal foster care system. However, Nelofar’s status as a humanitarian parolee meant that when she left the shelter, Community Resettlement Coordinator Roger Cheng and a community resettlement team were able to find Nelofar a home with a volunteer family while she waited for her family to join her in the US. She is thriving in her new community.
Nelofar fought for women’s rights in Afghanistan, and continues to speak up for her Afghan sisters. Since arriving in Philadelphia, she has performed songs at multiple marches and protests in support of Afghan women. She shared with us a painting she made (pictured above) that represents the mask Afghan women wear that cloaks the butterfly-like beauty and freedom contained within each Afghan woman. Nelofar is now safe in Greater Philadelphia, and has been reunited with her sister.