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Afghan refugee finds piece of home at Tucson Rodeo

Abdul Hameed left everything in Afghanistan to seek safety for his family
Published: Feb. 25, 2022 at 12:42 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The 2022 Tucson Rodeo Parade is in the books and many in our community took part.

For one man in attendance, it was a somber reflection of what he left behind. It was also a celebration of a new culture that is giving subtle hints of home.

Abdul Hameed, his wife and two young children fled Afghanistan when the Taliban took over.

“When I saw the street, all the people were running,” Abdul said. “We came here with one backpack, nothing else. We left our cars, houses and everything we had in Afghanistan.”

Abdul was forced to leave his 8-year-old horse Salmond behind to keep his family safe.

Thursday marked Tucson’s 97th rodeo, but for Abdul it was a first.

“I (asked) what a rodeo is (and he said horses are included),” Abdul said. “I said OK, I don’t care what is the game, if horses are there I need to go.’”

As Abdul walked onto the rodeo grounds, Abdul was drawn to the stables full of horses.

Before saying a word, Abdul walked up to the gate and put his hand out to them.

“When I came here, I was thinking about my horse,” Abdul said. “When I was going to my horse and speaking with him and riding him.”

The rodeo is helping Abdul find familiarity in the unfamiliar, calm in the chaos.

He said it reminds him of home.

For Abdul , the rodeo is not about the sport or even the competition. It’s a symbol of newness bringing with it a sense of hope.

When asked if he ever thought he would see Salmond again, Abdul’s response was heartbreaking.

”I don’t know, but I miss him a lot,” Abdul said.

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