JARRELL, Texas - As the Taliban continues its takeover of Afghanistan, a woman in Central Texas is fighting to save a former student and his family.
"All of those guys have a huge target on their back, and their families are at risk," said Patricia Schwindt, who lives in Jarrell.
Schwindt was referring to Afghans who have assisted the U.S. She taught English to a man named Razmi years ago at the Defense Language Institute in San Antonio. He went on to become a translator for the U.S. Army for years and later assisted a private U.S. company. He also serves as a member of the Afghan National Army.
He is now 37 years old and has a wife and five children - all under the age of sixteen. "They call me Grandma," said Schwindt.
Schwindt and Razmi have stayed in touch over the years, and Razmi asked Schwindt about a year ago if she could help him get his Special Immigration Visa (SIV).
She spent months trying to gather the correct documents and obtain recommendation letters from the right references, searching online for former coworkers and reaching out to them. She finally submitted the application on July 17, almost exactly one month ago.
They haven’t heard back since, and now, as the situation escalates in Afghanistan, Schwindt is worried for Razmi’s life. He’s told her how he’s been sleeping with the light on, in case they have to leave suddenly. There have been times he doesn’t let his children go outside.
"Our brains can’t wrap around what they go through every day just trying to stay alive," said Schwindt.
Schwindt has been praying and contacting senators in hopes of bringing quick attention to Razmi’s situation. According to one colonel that Razmi worked under, Razmi did much more than cross language barriers - as did other translators.
"In several instances, Razmi’s information and his guidance saved those units from ambush, from IEDs," said Schwindt. "How many American lives his information saved - multiply that by all those men; there’s a lot of our soldiers still alive today because of them."
On Sunday, FOX 7 was able to talk briefly with Razmi over the phone. He had just left the hospital where he had volunteered to work with COVID-19 patients.
"I discharged all of my patients yesterday," said Razmi. "The hospital chief came to me and said if you wanted to go home, you can go, otherwise we cannot guarantee life - anything can happen, because it’s out of control."
He described leaving the hospital and seeing very few people walking around. Those he saw appeared disoriented. "We didn’t imagine that they were going to take control of the provinces this fast," he said.
Meanwhile, Schwindt and her church family have been continually praying for Razmi and his family. "I still hang on to (the idea) that he will come here," she said. "I think if we can save seven lives, get them over here, they will be seven wonderful citizens because they know what freedom means."
Schwindt told FOX 7 via email on Wednesday that she got a call from Sen. Jim Inhoffe’s office that morning. His aide told her that the DOD and DOS had decided the night before to send both military and commercial planes in to pick up men like Razmi and their families.
"Keep praying until they are on American soil," she said in her email.
Biden authorizes $500M in aid relief to Afghan refugees amid Taliban takeover
Pentagon to resettle 22,000 Afghan refugees seeking asylum after Taliban takeover
Satellite images show chaos at Kabul airport as people flee Afghanistan
Taliban plan to declare Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan from the presidential palace
Biden: 5,000 troops will deploy to Afghanistan to ensure 'orderly and safe' drawdow
DOWNLOAD: FOX 7 AUSTIN NEWS APP
SUBSCRIBE: Daily Newsletter | YouTube
FOLLOW: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter