ARLINGTON, Va. — There may be many things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving season, but for two young siblings in Arlington, Va., simply being alive is one of them.
On their first Thanksgiving Day since being transferred to the U.S., 8-year-old Mina and her 13-year-old brother Faisal get to celebrate by spending time with loved ones, eating turkey and visiting the mall.
The day is providing calmer and happier moments compared to those just three months ago in Afghanistan, where they were injured in the bombing attack at the Kabul airport that killed 85 people, including their mother and 13 U.S. troops. The bombing separated them from their father and older brother who are still stuck overseas.
The family was one of many people who visited the airport in hopes of fleeing the country following the Taliban takeover.
"We've been through so much from the 26th of August," aunt Ferishta Stanekzai told WUSA9. "The day they will never forget, not myself and same with the kids as well."
The children were flown to Walter Reed Medical Center after the attack. They were temporarily placed at different facilities in Prince William County, but after concerns surfaced about their mental state being away from relatives who already live in Northern Virginia, Stanekzai gained custody.
The family said despite language barriers and being in a completely new environment, the brother and sister are doing well in school and making friends. Faisal aspires to be an engineer while Mina wants to be a doctor so she can help others the way she was helped in the hospital.
"Mina is learning English so fast, even sometimes she corrects my English," Stanekzai said.
While both kids are physically better, Mina still has to undergo surgery to remove a piece of shrapnel from her chest.
Meanwhile, she still does not know her mother died. Stanekzai eventually told Faisal two weeks ago, which she said he is processing internally.
They are still working to get the father and older brother out of Afghanistan so they can reunite with the kids, but for now, Stanekzai said Thanksgiving Day is reminding her of the blessings of family.
"Family is behind everything and And today they are with me and safe and that's most important," Stanekzai said. "They are happy and that's everything for me."
"I thank God," Faisal said.