SPRINGFIELD, VA (WUSA9) – Their future is uncertain. Two students at Northern Virginia Community College have student visas, but they’re about to expire.
That means they’ll have no funding to continue school, or pay for any expenses.
Their friends started a GoFundMe Account to help.
Saleh and Ahmed came to America through a high school student exchange program.
Both good students, they were chosen for the State Department program from thousands of applicants.
Saleh, 18, wants to be cardiac thoracic surgeon, motivated by his beloved uncle who died during open heart surgery in Yemen.
Ahmed, 19, is studying information technology and wants to do coding and programing.
In 2014, they moved in with families in different parts of the United States; Saleh in Chicago and Ahmed in Florida. They both had great experiences, they say.
“We were supposed to stay for 10 months, but civil war broke out back home and we were unable to go back, so (The State Department) extended our visas,” said Ahmed.
Their visas were extended under Temporary Protective Status, but that ends May 15, 2017. Though they miss their families, they are terrified about the protest of returning to Yemen.
“Extremists, they hate America…the idea that I came from America, a country whose considered their enemies, my life might be in danger,” said Saleh.
Both young men are afraid for their families back home. Their memories of their homeland are vastly different from today’s reality.
“As a child, I liked to do sports and hang out with my friends and it was peaceful and quiet. Then the war came and now people are afraid for who is living next to them,” Saleh said. “People who use to be friends and go pray in the same mosque are now enemies.
Saleh has four brothers and three sisters. Their neighborhood became so dangerous, they had to move and now live with relatives. Their old neighborhood has since been bombed twice.
Saleh says he was shocked to learn that a good friend back home was killed.
“I had a friend back home who was like, my best friend. We went to school together and everything. When I came to the U.S. I just hear the news that he died in the war between ISIS and another group. I was like, how come he got in between? And then I found out that he was recruited by ISIS. And I was so scared. He was my best friend,” said Saleh.
Saleh says he knew his friend had been a good student like him and also had dreams of going to college.
“Those people lost the only thing they worked hard for, become very vulnerable. They basically think there’s no where to go. No hope,” said Saleh.
He thinks that’s what happened to his best friend.