Ali Ehsani reached out to Pope Francis in August, asking for his help in getting a Christian family hiding in Kabul on a flight out of the country. The Pope was moved by their story, and sent Ehsani a message, while mobilizing Vatican diplomats to help the family in need.
Afghan writer Ali Ehsani, said, “I told them that the Pope was praying for them, that he was thinking of them during that time, and that they should remain calm. They said: “Let's hope they will be able to save us.” In the end, they managed to make it to Italy.”
By mid-August, the Vatican acted with other institutions to get them out of Kabul. The Italian military took them to Rome, where they are now being cared for by the “Meet Human” foundation. EU politician, Silvia Costa, was a vocal advocate for their evacuation. On Twitter, she announced their safe arrival in Italy.
One of the family members wanted to give Pope Francis the shirt he wore when he escaped from the Taliban and began his new life.
In those four to five days in which they were fleeing, he always wore this shirt. He even had it on at the Kabul airport, where the picture was taken.
The Pope deeply appreciated the gift from a family targeted for refusing to renounce their Christian faith.
A report posted by Courtney Mares posted on catholicnewsagency.com states that an Afghan Christian refugee whose parents were killed by the Taliban in the 1990s has been appealing to Pope Francis to help a Catholic family currently at the Kabul Airport.
“I ask please, please of both the Holy See and the Italian authority to immediately save this Christian family which is still in the airport,” Ali Ehsani told CNA August 19.
“As a Christian, I suffered in Afghanistan. I know how difficult is the suffering,” he said.
Ehsani, who has lived in Rome since 2003, hoped to make his appeal to the pope in person.
“I would very much like to meet the Pope,” said Ehsani.
His message for the potential papal meeting? “Save this Christian Afghan family who are stuck there at the airport,” he said.
The Catholic family is made up of five children and their mother.
He worries that “the risk facing Christians in Afghanistan is like what my parents risked.”
“My parents were killed by the Taliban,” he said.
Ehsani left Afghanistan with his brother in 1997 after his parents were killed. He was eight years old.
Living in Christian community has been particularly difficult in Afghanistan because most families are forced to keep their identity as Christians a secret out of fear for their lives.
“No one said who was Christian. They were afraid of being caught,” Ehsani explained.
In Ehsani’s case, his parents decided to keep their faith a secret from their very young son for fear that he would accidentally mention it to one of his classmates.
Since coming to Italy, Ehsani, 32, has earned a law degree. He hopes that he can help rescue other Christian families from the same tragedy he faced as a child.
Afghanistan is over 99 per cent Muslim, with the majority being Sunni. There are small groups of Christians, including about 200 Catholics, as well as Buddhists, Hindus, and Baháʼís.