The four Americans, who arrived in Kabul late Tuesday, said they hoped to draw attention to the plight of Afghans who had suffered during the U.S. bombing campaign launched after the Taliban refused to hand over Osama bin Laden.
The group met with Mohammad Rahaf, 26, his brother Aziz Ullah, 13, and sister Sabera, 9, who lost their mother, grandmother, brother, sister and brother-in-law when American 7bombs accidentally struck their home in the Qala-e-Zaman Khan district of Kabul. The bombs were aimed at Taliban military targets, but missed their mark. The Pentagon said civilians were never deliberately targeted, but acknowledged that some bombs went astray.
Rahaf said he and Sabera were out of the house when it was hit in the attack two months ago. Aziz was outside washing the car, they said. The three have since relied on friends and neighbors for food and shelter.
Derrill Bodley, a 56-year-old music professor from Stockton, California, told the three of his own loss - the death of his 20-year-old daughter Deora, who was aboard United Airlines Flight 93. It crashed in a Pennylvania field, apparently after passengers fought back against the hijackers.
Speaking to reporters afterward, Bodley told how the three Afghan siblings had lost their father two years ago, he said, and had fled their home in northern Afghanistan for Kabul. "They have suffered over many years," Bodley said. "I have suffered since Sept. 11."
Another of the Americans, Rita Laser, 70, whose brother died in the World Trade Center, told the siblings she intended to "go back to the United States and tell the people there" of sufferings of Afghans like them. "We hope that we can get our government to help you," she told them.
Rahaf, in turn, told the Americans he was moved by their stories. "We are sorry to hear about your losses," he said. "We are also victims. Our house has been destroyed, we have lost our family, I have no job and we don't know what we can do."
The Americans handed over gifts - a soccer ball for Aziz, a dress suit for Sabera. Kelly Campbell, 29, of Oakland, California, whose brother-in-law Craig Amundson was killed in the attack on the Pentagon, told the siblings that her mother is a teacher, and that she had told her pupils about the planned visit. The children sent heart-shaped cards to be delivered to the Afghan families. "The American children want the Afghan children to know that they care," Campbell said. Also traveling with the group was Bodley's stepdaughter Eva Rupp, 28, who works for the federal government in Washington.
Within an hour of the group's arrival Tuesday, they met the family of Mohammed Shaher Purdes, whose home was destroyed in the conflict. Shaher's pregnant wife, Najiba, was seriously wounded. The group, whose trip was organized by the San Francisco-based advocacy group Global Exchange, also planned in coming days to meet Afghan street children, visit a girls' school, talk with the staff of an agency that is helping clear land mines and tour a refugee encampment.