Paz Hurtado embraces Hussaini and Shogofaas Sonia and Atina look on. / ÑITO SALAS

From the horror of Kabul to the safety of Malaga

"We're home." An Afghani family arrives safely in Malaga thanks to the help of a local olive exporter, who answered their cry for help from Kabul


The message that local businesswoman Paz Hurtado had been hoping for for two months finally arrived in the early hours of the morning.

"Sister, we're in Malaga."

The words came from Ferozuddin Hussaini, the Afghani trader whose life she had just saved. And not just his: 35-year-old Hussaini arrived with his wife Shogofa, 34, his sister Sonia, 19, and his two children, Atina, 4, and Ali Arshad, 2. All five are now safe and free after two frenetic months of phone calls and negotiations with which Paz Hurtado, CEO of Hutesa Agroalimentaria SA, kept the promise she made to the Kabul importer of her olives in August, when he sent her a message, imploring her to get them out of there.

Sixty days later Paz stands at the door of the family's new home. Little Ali Ashad wraps himself around her leg, toy car in hand; Atina smiles for the first time, clutching two bread buns in her hands; Shogofa wraps her in the pashmina she was able to buy her in Kabul, probably with the little they had left when the taliban seized their accounts; and Sonia holds her tight, because she is 19, a pretty young woman, a fatal combination in the Afghanistan of today.

"At last we're home," Hussaini whispers to Paz as they embrace. They have met only twice in the ten years they have known each other, but these five lives explain the connection, the pure instinct that makes them feel like long lost siblings.

Paz Hurtado and Ferozuddin Hussaini had had a business relationship since 2012 when he became the distributor in Afghanistan of the olives that Hutesa exports around the world.

"I'll never be able to thank her enough. That first message and its positive response was the start of our journey here," said Hussaini, now free of the stress of worrying whether they would make it.

Now he has left behind the fear of seeing how the Taliban started to go from door to door looking for people who worked with foreign firms: "We had to move house five or six times," he explains. With his telephone acting as an umbilical cord between him and Hurtado, Hussaini recalls the lead-up to his new life in Malaga. From the moment his sister Sonia had to give up her studies of Economics at Kabul University to the day they closed his children's nursery school. Or when his wife and sister couldn't leave the house as "they didn't have a burka". The tears and terrified cries of his children when they saw a Taliban in the street "because they were armed and very frightening". Their desperate flight to the Torkham border, the only open crossing point between Afghanistan and Pakistan and the ten checkpoints at which they were asked "whether we collaborated with foreign firms". And the doubts about whether Sonia would get through or not.

Now the family are looking forward to a new life in Spain. Sonia would like to continue her studies here, learn the language and adapt to the customs.

"This has been the best thing I've ever done," says Hurtado, who is also taking care of providing the family with a home and a car, finding a school for the children and jobs for Hussaini, his wife and sister in the Hutesa plant in Fuente de Piedra, somewhere he already feels attached to.

They also have to be grateful to many others, both agree: "To the Spanish government, the Ministries of Defence and Foreign Affairs, Cruz Roja, UNHCR, the CEOE, consulates... all of them," says the businesswoman, not wanting to leave anyone out.

Before she gets back in her car Paz turns to Shogofa and says: "Calm, calm, you're home now. See you on Monday."