Afghan Feminist Who Battled Domestic Violence Now Helps Refugee Families Make It Here

By Stephen Magagnini
The Sacramento Bee

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Reinventing herself as “Moon Brave,” last August, Basira Haidari was hired as a family resources aid for the Yolo County Children’s Alliance’s West Sacramento Family Resource Center, where she helps new refugees navigate the complicated system that will allow them to build new lives here.

The Sacramento Bee

Basira Haidari, a fearless Afghan refugee, had her family shattered and her heart broken last winter after she’d declared war on domestic abuse.

Child Protective Services had taken her two small children away because she didn’t know how to file a temporary restraining order against her husband, Omid, who had been arrested for slapping her in a fight over money.

On Saturday morning, she was on the front lines at the Yolo County Childrens’ Alliance Community Giveaway Day, one of several staff members and an army volunteers from River CIty High School helping 500 families, many of them refugees who began lining up at 4 a.m. at Westfield Village Elementary School for Thanksgiving meals, groceries, clothes, blankets and toys.

Haidari, 23, knows firsthand what it’s like to survive with two small kids in a new country where laws and bureaucracy don’t make sense and can cost you health care benefits, food stamps and even your children.

“I was so scared for days,” Haidari said. “Now I’m the advocate for others — this makes me so strong. I tell my people, ‘Share your goodness, share your knowledge, share your happiness.’ ”

Since she came to Sacramento, Haidari — one of the few Afghan women here who knew English — championed women’s rights, warning men in her Arden Arcade apartment to stop hitting their wives or face jail. But like many immigrants, she didn’t know the system and was forced to take parenting classes and go to court to finally get back daughter Raheel, 3 1/2, and son Subhan, 1.

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