No safe place

Dr. Najia Mohib

See Afghan doctor’s journey from despair to a moment of joy

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Dr. Najia Mohib, 36, was an obstetrician in Afghanistan. Here, she became a patient. She sobs as she recounts being hit by a car Nov. 8, 2015, on Edison Avenue while walking her daughter Hila, 8, home from school. Mohib (who recently changed her last name to Stana) was pregnant at the time, living in Skyview Villa Apartments. The car struck her in the back, and she was hospitalized for three days. “The first month we thought we came to a safe country and we were happy,” she said. “But after one month we know this complex is not safe.”



 

Dr. Najia Mohib shows pictures of injuries to her arm from being hit by a car. Mohib said her daughter Hila, 8, was facing her and looking for fruit in a tree when she was hit. “When my daughter saw blood on my arms and legs she said, ‘My mom has died, my mom has died.’ ”

Standing on Edison Avenue in Sacramento where she was hit by a car, Dr. Najia Mohib said she was walking in the bike lane when the accident occurred. “(The police) claimed I was walking in the street, but why would I do that? I’m a doctor. I’m not a stupid person,” she said.

A photograph shows Dr. Najia Mohib, an obstetrician in Afghanistan. “I want to work as a doctor again,” she said. “Then I would be happy.” Her husband worked for the Afghanistan National Army from 2008 to 2014 with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He was an architect, but their credentials haven't translated to employment here.

Dr. Najia Mohib displays dozens of commendations, diplomas and certificates showing her education credentials as a doctor in Afghanistan. The International Rescue Committee has not helped her to enroll in school or get a job in her profession. 

Najia Mohib, 36, holds 5-month-old Mohammad Athar as he reaches for his father, Mohibullah Stana (recently changed from Stanizai), at Skyview Villa Apartments. Stana, 44, was home for lunch as Mohib packed to move to their new apartment in Rancho Cordova. He worries about the rent increase. He is an architect. After eight months, he found a job as an electrical engineer. “I was jobless … Is this America?” he said. “I didn’t have anything to say to my wife – life was tough.”

Dr. Najia Mohib boxes up ramen, macaroni and cheese, and cereal in her bedroom as she prepares for their move. Her daughter Hila, 8, watches over the youngest of three children, 5-month-old Mohammad Athar.

Dr. Najia Mohib kneels for her afternoon prayers at Skyview Villa. “When I first came here the entire floor was full of cockroaches,” she said.  “...I was one month pregnant and was scared and screamed a lot when I saw them (the bugs).”

Afghan tradition calls for a neighbor to deliver the final meal to a family who is moving away. Dr. Najia Mohib holds her 5-month-old baby, Mohammad Athar, as she eats the delivered lunch with her children, from left, Mohammad Eltaf, 5, Hila, 8, and her husband, Mohibullah Stana, 44, at Skyview Villa before relocating to Rancho Cordova in November. 

Hila, 8, carries her baby brother, Mohammad Athar, as she and her family move out of Skyview Villa. Ever since witnessing her mother being hit by a car, she has experienced nightmares. “Every day she would close her bedroom door crying, ‘my mom, my mom,’ ” Najia Mohib said. “I know because I’m a doctor. My daughter and son wake up crying, suffering flashbacks from my car accident.”

A neighbor brushes cheeks with Dr. Najia Mohib, right, as Mohib prepares to leave for her new residence. “I was OB-GYN doctor. I thought I would be a doctor here and this would be a good place for us, but this complex we live in is very dirty and not safe.”

Dr. Najia Mohib returns a traditional Afghan serving tray to a neighbor as she prepares to move out of Skyview Villa. “I was thinking America is a good place and I would become an American doctor, my husband an American engineer,” she said. “When we come to America I think the house would be clean, my husband would go to a job and children go to school, and I would get a job.”

Dr. Najia Mohib expresses a rare moment of joy after waving goodbye to other Afghan women as she leaves Skyview Villa for her new residence in Rancho Cordova. She is one of the few women who was able to get her driver’s license. “It was not America at this complex,” she said. “This can’t be America.”

“He likes the American flag,” said Dr. Najia Mohib about her son Mohammad Eltaf, 5, as he gazes up at the TV in their new apartment in Rancho Cordova.

READ MORE:

‘This can't be America’ – A doctor in Afghanistan, she’s starting at the bottom