A job with the U.S. Army at an air force base in Germany changed her life.
Helei Amini served in a vital role as a civilian translator, working with thousands of Afghan refugees who arrived there after the chaos in their homeland.
“It was a huge honor to be there and it was something satisfying for me personally and professionally,” Amini said.
Amini came to Fargo with her single mother in 2000 from Afghanistan, but her job as a translator for the U.S. Army would bring her back in touch with her roots.
“At the time, I was the only female Afghan translator there,” she said.
Amini was featured in a Vice News special on the hardships left as the withdrawal of the US military led to the collapse of the Afghan government.
This collapse left a void that was quickly filled by the Taliban.
“As for the fact that you are an Afghan American, what do you think about what is happening in your country?” asked Vice News reporter Liz Landers.
“After seeing my mother whipped by the Taliban when I was nine, they are still the Taliban, we know, and they will never change,” Amini said.
And she talked about being able to help the Afghan women.
“It not only helps me feel empathy, but I see myself in the little girls,” Amini said, overwhelmed with emotion.
Amini knows several languages, so her translation skills and knowledge of the refugees’ culture and religion became valuable as the military tried to deal with so many, so quickly.
“It is our responsibility, moral responsibility, to help our fellow Afghans, especially in times of need,” she said.
Perhaps the best goal for her contribution led to a heartwarming moment carried out of the crisis.
When an Afghan woman was about to give birth to her child at the base in Germany after fleeing her home country, Amini stepped in and asked men to leave the room before helping with the delivery.
“And they put the baby on her breast, and they asked the mother what she would call the baby, and she looked at me and asked, ‘What’s your name?'” Amini said. “So it was very, very beautiful.”