Afghan Refugees

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

Once an obstetrician in Afghanistan, Dr. Najia Mohib sobs as she recounts the day she was hit by a car on Edison Avenue while walking her daughter Hila, 8, home from school. She was nearly nine months pregnant.
Once an obstetrician in Afghanistan, Dr. Najia Mohib sobs as she recounts the day she was hit by a car on Edison Avenue while walking her daughter Hila, 8, home from school. She was nearly nine months pregnant. rbyer@sacbee.com

Dr. Najia Mohib was walking her daughter, Hila, 8, home from school in May 2015 when she was struck by a car.

The former obstetrician was hit on a stretch of Edison Avenue without sidewalks, not far from where fellow refugee Mustafa Rafi was killed two months later while riding his bike with his son Omar, who suffered severe brain injuries.

The driver, who stopped to help, told police that Mohib stepped in front of his car, an account backed up by a witness. The California Highway Patrol concluded she had walked into the road to avoid a ditch, and the driver was not charged.

For Mohib, the accident underscored a lack of respect she has felt since arriving in the United States. She spent three days in the hospital.

She insisted that she was walking in the bike lane.

“I’m a doctor; I’m not stupid!” she said, sobbing. “I know where is the street and where is the sidewalk. The car was out of control and hit me.”

Mohib and her husband, Mohibullah Stana (recently changed from Stanizai), arrived in Sacramento in September 2014. They were placed in Skyview Villa Apartments, an Arden Arcade apartment complex that has had problems with crime and bug infestations. It’s the same complex where Faisal Razmal, a former translator, was shot in the eye with a flare gun, and where Rafi lived with his family.

Mohib said she didn’t feel safe in Skyview. She said a man with a knife once approached her and demanded money as she went to pick up her mail.

Her husband, an architect and translator, shared his wife’s frustration. He worked with coalition forces for six years helping design buildings for the new Afghan security forces, but couldn’t find a job for eight months after they arrived.

Bit by bit, though, the couple made progress. Mohibullah Stana found an engineering job that pays $16 an hour. Najia Mohib obtained her driver’s license. The entire family changed their last name to Stana, getting rid of the FNU tag that had robbed them of their full names on official documents.

On Nov. 23, the couple moved out of Skyview Villa with their three children to a new apartment in Rancho Cordova.

Mohib (now Stana) broke into a smile as she slipped behind the wheel to drive out of the complex for the last time. “It was not America at this complex,” she said. “This can’t be America.”

The Bee’s Renée C. Byer contributed to this report.

Stephen Magagnini: 916-321-1072, @SteveMagagnini

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