The turmoil in Afghanistan is unraveling before the world’s eyes. including those locally with personal ties to the country.

SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- The turmoil in Afghanistan is unraveling before the world’s eyes. including those locally with personal ties to the country. The United States began withdrawing troops from the country after more than 20 years of a military presence and the largest cities are quickly falling into Taliban control.

We spoke with a local couple who spent time in Afghanistan and they said watching the country’s cities fall to the Taliban is only another chapter in a series of heartbreaks since they left.

“It makes me feel awful. I bleed for the country,” said Juris Zagarins, a former Peace Corps volunteer and retired professor.

Zagarins and Robin Varnum, a professor emerita at AIC, said the collapse of Afghanistan is difficult to watch. It’s the unraveling of a country that holds a special place in their hearts.

“We were Peace Corps volunteers in Ghazni, Afghanistan,” Varnum noted.

They met and fell in love as they also worked in the country during it’s last time of true peace.

“I taught English there in a girls school for two years,” Varnum added.

Zagarins said, “We saw how they lived and we shared a lot of their experiences.”

However, even by 1973, things were going downhill

“We were in the country during the first of a series of coup d’état,” Varnum noted.

After several military occupations, the couple wonders what’s become of the people they met.

“It’s been a horrible 40 years…The ones that we know are the ones who escaped to North America or to Australia…but we do know of people that have lost their lives,” Varnum said.

Varnum recently published a book about her time hoping to give people a better understanding of the country.

“I wanted to present a positive picture of Afghanistan and Afghanistan as a hopeful country,” Varnum explained.

However, in the short term, they are worried about the women Varnum once taught and the future of education for girls, now knowing the Afghanistan she left behind in the 70s would never be the same.

“I am afraid that we’re going to go back to square one…In retrospect, I see that that was the beginning of the slippery slope, the demise of Afghanistan,” Varnum said.

So far, the U.S. has been able to rescue embassy staff from Afghanistan, but thousands of Afghans who helped the U.S. remain in danger. There are efforts underway to resettle those allies.

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(1) comment


100% Biden's fault what is going on right now. It's heart breaking watching the Taliban yanking young girls from their homes for war brides, shooting people, etc. Biden 100% owns every body on the ground. What an incompetent, senile buffoon.

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