Cheryl Bigman Photography | A Story of Hope - Razia's Family Portrait Session

A Story of Hope - Razia's Family Portrait Session

January 13, 2016  •  2 Comments

Razia, Abe, and Family | Family Portraits
Date | 8.21.15
Location | Hap Magee Ranch Park, Alamo, CA


Everyone has a story...

One of the things I love most about my job is getting to know my clients on a personal level, and telling their stories in both words and photographs. Razia's story in particular, really got my attention.

Family-Portrait-with-Two-Girls-Wearing-Matching-Plaid-DressesFamily-Portrait-with-Two-Girls-Wearing-Matching-Plaid-DressesA beautiful family portrait of an Afghan family of four with two little girls wearing matching plaid dresses. Taken at Hap Magee Ranch Park in Alamo, CA.

So first, her incredible story...

Imagine being just 3 years old and living in the midst of the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Razia's family knew they had to leave everything behind for their own safety, but leaving was no easy task. There were no planes to take them out of Afghanistan. The family had to pay perpetrators to walk them to Pakistan. Yes, walk! As Razia recalled, "Even though I was so little, I still remember hearing the sound of rockets being fired over my head." Frightening!

Razia's family finally made it to Pakistan where they moved into a crowded place with an aunt. To make matters worse, the thousands of refugees entering Pakistan were seen as illegal aliens and considered "less than" in society. Many left successful careers in Afghanistan, only to find menial jobs in Pakistan. Razia's grandparents, who previously fled to Germany, were both successful professionals in Afghanistan. Her grandmother ran the first hospital there and her grandfather was a cardiologist. Her grandparents moved to Los Angeles in the early 80's and sponsored their children. After 2 years in Pakistan, Razia's family was able to join them in Los Angeles on 3-15-83 where she spent the next 10 years.


Life in the U.S.

Razia knew she wanted to go to college, and eventually moved to the east bay to attend Cal State Hayward. She also knew she wanted to use her experience as a refugee to help others going through the process. She graduated Cal State and attended the California School of Professional Psychology where she was the youngest in her class. She earned her PhD at the age of 26, doing her residency at UCSF. Such an inspiration!

Razia has worked as a clinical psychologist with Jewish Children and Family Services (JCFS) since 2009, helping refugees through the resettlement process. She is the only psychologist in the entire Bay Area who speaks Dari (Afghan), Farsi (Iranian), and English which is huge in gaining the trust of the people she works with. She also appears on an Afghan TV show called "Women of the World" and recently gave a presentation in Washington DC on refugees and immigrants, and the cultural differences between South Asians and Afghans.

Interestingly, Razia's husband Abe's family also came from Afghanistan. Without knowing it, both Razia and Abe's families lived in Fremont for a time. Must have been meant-to-be.

Those of us who have grown up in the U.S., especially the San Francisco Bay Area, cannot even begin to know what it was like for Razia's family. Risking your life for your freedom, leaving everything you know behind, moving to a foreign country where you don't speak the language and have no job. It's a story that has repeated itself throughout history, most recently with the current Syrian refugee crisis. The strangest thing for me listening to Razia's story was thinking about what I was doing back in the early 80's compared to what she went through. Night and Day. Like many high school kids, I was completely oblivious.

I am so thankful I got to know Razia and create beautiful keepsake portraits to document her more recent family history. Knowing her story makes it all the more special. Razia's little girls will hopefully never experience the struggle and sacrifice their parents endured to get here, but Razia assured me that someday they would take the girls back to the places they grew up when they first arrived in the U.S.


And now, Razia's Family Portraits...

Afghan-Family-Portrait-Hap-Magee-AlamoAfghan-Family-Portrait-Hap-Magee-AlamoA sweet family picture of an Afghan family of four. The two little girls decided to wear matching plaid dresses. Portrait taken at Hap Magee Ranch Park in Alamo, CA.

Big-Sister-Love-and-HugsBig-Sister-Love-and-HugsA big sister wraps her arms around her little sister for an adorable portrait. Girls are wearing Burberry-style matching plaid dresses in neutral colors. Photo taken at Hap Magee Ranch Park in Alamo, CA.

I think these two like each other just a little...

Mom-and-Daughters-HugMom-and-Daughters-HugPortrait of a mother and her two young daughters of Afghan descent getting close for their photo op. The two girls are wearing matching plaid Burberry style dresses while mom wears a beautiful pastel floral print. Picture taken at Hap Magee Ranch Park in Alamo, CA.

Sister-Love-and-HugsSister-Love-and-HugsTwo sweet sisters in a loving hug for their portrait at Hap Magee Ranch Park in Alamo, CA. These adorable little girls wore matching plaid dresses and gave me the cutest smiles in every one of their pictures.


Yasamin taher(non-registered)
We are so proud to have Dr. Iqbal in Afghan Comunity . Iam lucky to work with Razia in the same agency and help Afghan SIV along with other refugees. Razia you are good role models for all Afghans who are coming as a refugee in young age like you. You ate the best.
amy weiss(non-registered)
What beautiful family portraits of a beautiful family. It is such a privilege to work with Razia!
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