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Afghan students to premier documentary on evacuation to Alexandria

Zahra Rahimi (staff photo by James Cullum)

Afghan students living in Alexandria will premiere an eight-minute documentary this Friday on their experiences during the 2021 evacuation from Afghanistan.

The eight-minute documentary “Desperate” was produced and directed by Zahra Rahimi, an Alexandria City High School senior who has gained notoriety over the past six months for her work helping her fellow Afghan students learn English. It will premiere this Friday at 6 p.m. at the Del Pepper Community Resource Center (4850 Mark Center Drive).

The documentary chronicles the story of three Afghan girls who fled their home country in the summer of 2021, as well as their challenges arriving in the U.S. Rahimi also tells viewers at the end of the documentary that special immigrant visas need to be processed faster by the U.S. State Department.

“My intention with this documentary is to be a voice for women and girls in Afghanistan who are not here right now,” Rahimi said. “Their rights are taken away from them and they are sitting at home every day. My other intention is for the visas to be processed faster, because there’s thousands of immigrants in other countries such as Pakistan or in refugee camps, still waiting for their visas to come to the United States.”

The film was also produced by Northern Virginia Resettling Afghan Families Together (NOVA RAFT), a nonprofit where Rahimi teaches English to dozens of children. Her work teaching English and founding an Afghan club at ACHS led to her being recognized earlier this year by First Lady Jill Biden as one of 15 “Girls Leading Change” around the country.

NOVA RAFT has helped hundreds of families transition to the U.S.

“Over the past two years, Alexandria has gained several thousand new residents who have made the city home after the tragic fall of their country to the Taliban,” NOVA RAFT founder Dan Altman told ALXnow. “The documentary and the presentation after is also a tribute to all those that incredible people who helped welcome them here; especially their teachers.”

Rahimi founded a club for Afghan students and helped create an English literacy program teaching dozens of refugee children with Northern Virginia Resettling Afghan Families Together.

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