Yazdan Bakhsh

From: Orozgan, Afghanistan  Current City: Minneapolis, MN
"The United States is the only country to give you the opportunity and especially the freedom. Most of us have no idea what freedom means."
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Yazdan Bakhsh has never taken his freedom in America for granted. After leaving his home to escape violence, he befriended a generous American couple that incorporated Mr. Bakhsh into their family after he helped them to safety during the Lebanese Civil War.

Born in the mountains of Afghanistan, Mr. Bakhsh is Hazara, an ethnicity frequently persecuted by the Taliban. In his pursuit of freedom, he began working to support his dream of moving to Iran. Unable to obtain a work permit in Iran, Mr. Bakhsh traveled to Iraq, Kuwait, and Syria before eventually settling in Lebanon when he was eighteen.

In Lebanon, Yazdan became acquainted with Mr. Simkins, a special projects manager for the UN. Mr. Simkins helped Yazdan find employment as an informant at the US embassy, supplying information about the local drug trade. War erupted, and the Simkins’ turned to Yazdan for help leaving the country. After they arrived in Damascus unharmed, Mrs. Simkins hugged Yazdan, saying, “You’ll be my son Joe.”

With the help of his new family, Yazdan attended high school in Minnesota. He was later granted asylum with the onset of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. In gratitude for his newfound freedom, Mr. Bakhsh gives back by educating immigrants through his financial service company and by providing long-term care planning for aging baby boomers.

For additional information, visit: www.yazdanb.com

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