AKRON, Ohio (WJW) – Hundreds of Afghan refugees now call Akron home, including their children. And they are getting extra guidance from a courageous Afghan woman, who tells her harrowing story of service, escape and mentorship in this week’s Voices of Unity.

Growing up in the shadow of war, Lida Ahmadi finally found peace during the past year and a half in the United States. But the harmony in a foreign land can unearth trauma.

The 26-year-old remembers things she wishes she could forget, like the fall of her beloved Afghanistan into Taliban control.

Lida Ahmadi resettled in Northeast Ohio after fleeing Afghanistan.

“If they find out I work with the U.S. embassy, I work as an interpreter for them, they will kill me and also kill my family,” Ahmadi told Fox 8’s Maia Belay.

During the U.S. withdrawal in 2021, Ahmadi was stationed at the Kabul airport, steering families out of the country, including her own during a tearful goodbye.

“My dad was crying, he was just like, ‘Let’s go, I cannot go without you, it’s too much’,” Ahmadi said.

She stayed and survived the bombing at the airport killing scores of Afghans and 13 U.S. military members.

“Three days before we evacuate there was a big bomb blast which I was part of. I was there. I noticed everyone. Like lots of body parts around me. I saw marines die, I saw local people die,” Ahmadi said. “I was like, even if I die, it’s okay,  my family’s alive. All those people we helped, they’re alive.”

She said she escaped on the last flight destined for the U.S.

“It’s not easy sometimes when I think about it. I’m like, ‘we really made it alive,’” she said.

Ahmadi’s desire to help her community continues through her work as a mentor at the resettlement agency, the International Institute of Akron, giving critical assistance to more than 200 Afghan refugees.

“There’s trauma in going from a county that was experiencing war to a community that’s peaceful, so they have to get used to that and they have to learn to trust our community and trust what we’re doing to help them,” said Liv Randall of the International Institute of Akron. “Lida mentors seven Afghan girls, often meeting here at the Akron Summit County Public Library. She helps them with their schoolwork and their English, and is just a friend that they can lean on.”

Guiding the girls through a new culture they’re all working to navigate together.

Ahmadi said, “I don’t have a sister now, I have seven sisters around me.”

An opportunity to grow and learn without fear.

“They’ve never been to a coffee shop. I took them to a coffee shop and they were surprised they were like, ‘Is it safe to be here?’”

As they begin to dream about the new possibilities their life can hold.

“I wish I could do more of what I do.”