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Jefferson Co couple serves as lifeline to American woman, 17 Afghan people

The group in Kabul turns to Perez daily to confirm emails or warnings from local government.
Published: Nov. 19, 2021 at 6:42 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Ellen Perez and her husband set on a dangerous and difficult journey back in August after their commitment to help rescue 17 Afghan people and a woman who said she is an American citizen from Afghanistan.

“It has completely changed our lives,” Perez said. “I don’t think you can ever be the same after being involved in something like this.”

Perez’s husband served in Afghanistan a decade ago and worked with Afghan interpreters who at times kept him alive.

“At one point, he (the interpreter) perceived what he thought was a threat to my husband and stepped in front of my husband to take the bullet for him,” said Perez.

Perez told WVLT News she’s reached out to every politician and just about anyone who will listen to their story. Her efforts have reached Congressman Mark Green’s office who only said they’ve been “helping multiple people get out of Afghanistan.”

The group in Kabul turns to Perez daily to confirm emails or warnings from local government. Small talk is just that, but she’s trying to hold on to small special moments.

“She’s teaching English to some of the children, and she wanted them to all say hello how are you to me,” Perez said.

The Perez family lives on a family with several dwellings that could house the families. Through private donors, Perez raised nearly $500,000 for private chartered flights and special aid. As fast as the money is raised, it’s spent. So, the family has created a fundraiser to support the families’ on-going medical, food and shelter needs.

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