Evacuated Afghan family given rent-free flat in Aberdeen by stranger

Evacuated Afghan interpreter and his wife tell how they cried tears of joy as they moved into new home after stranger offered her flat for free following their four month wait

  • Burhan Vesal, 34, a former Afghan translator, and his family start a new chapter
  • The Afghan couple and their six-year-old son are living safely in a flat in Scotland
  • A British woman, whose mother was given refuge after WW2, donated her flat
  • Their journey comes to a happy end after months of uncertainty in temp housing

An Afghan family evacuated from the Taliban-controlled nation were given a second opportunity, after a British woman offered them accommodation in her flat in Aberdeen for free.

Burhan Vesal, a former Afghan interpreter, and his wife Narcis, a doctor, said there were ‘tears in their eyes’ as they moved with their six-year-old son into their new home in Aberdeen.

Helga Macfarlane, the family’s benefactor, connected with their story as her mother, a Silesian who worked as an interpreter for the British. was given sanctuary in the UK after fleeing from the Nazis. 

Burhan, 34, told Metro.co.uk: ‘We have made our way from Afghanistan to our new flat in Aberdeen. 

‘It’s hard to put into words how it feels to give up all your dreams in Afghanistan and come to a new country to restart your life.

Burhan, Narcis and Sepehr Vesal (pictured: left to right) have a new home in Aberdeen, where they hope to start a new chapter, safe from the threat of Taliban reprisals 

The Afghan family stayed for four months in temporary accommodation, before being offered a lifeline by a British lady who connected with their story. Helga, their benefactor, is the daughter of a Silesian refugee who was given asylum in the UK, having worked as a translator for the British army in WW2

‘But luckily I have escaped being imprisoned or killed. We feel so lucky and comforted to be here. 

‘It’s been a long journey from Afghanistan to Aberdeen.

‘When we stepped inside our flat there were tears in our eyes.’ 

After being airlifted out of Kabul, Afghanistan, in the final days of the mass evacuation of August 2021, the Afghan family stayed in temporary accommodation for four months in central London and then at the Arora Hotel in Crawley.

The couple and their six-year-old, Sepehr, were initially offered a house in Peterborough by the Home Office, though this fell through at the last moment.

The future looks bright for six-year-old Sepehr, now that his mother – a doctor – and his father – formerly a translator – have re-settled successfully from Afghanistan to Aberdeen

With the Afghan family’s stay in ‘bridging accommodation’ looking set to go on indefinitely, Helga’s offer via e-mail of a flat in Aberdeen was a lifeline.   

’We have finally reached the end of the journey,’ Burhan said.

‘It feels really nice because being in the bridging hotel was not good.  

‘There were hundreds of families from everywhere with many different cultures, some of them were polite, some of them were impolite.

‘I was not worried for myself but for my son. Now we’re the lucky ones. We have a new home in a new area we love and we continue our lives in safety.’ 

Burhan hopes to find work in security after completing the necessary training, while Narcis plans to sharpen her English language skills to the point of being able to practise medicine in the UK.  

Helga saw an opportunity to pay forwards the mercy her Silesian mother had been shown nearly 80 years ago, when she was given refuge in Britain having worked for the army as a translator during World War Two.    

‘Helga is an example to the world,’ Burhan said. 

‘I’ve never met someone so kind and free-hearted as her. She has shown that there are people in the world who believe in humanity.  

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office evacuated over 15,000 people from Afghanistan during the Kabul airlift from 15 August to the 30 August. 

A former junior civil servant, Raphael Marshall, detailed in a damning 39-page dossier last week how thousands of desperate emails from Afghans begging to be airlifted out of Kabul went unanswered.

Raphael, a whistle-blower, told the Commons foreign affairs committee that chronic staffing shortages at the department were compounded by colleagues working from home, refusing to work weekends and sticking to the culture of eight-hour shifts ‘despite the urgency’ of the situation. 

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