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Afghan sisters open cafe in Boise after escaping horrors of the Taliban

Even before the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan, the Sham sisters were using their Boise business to help women in Afghanistan.

BOISE, Idaho — The Sham sisters don't remember much of their home in Afghanistan after they fled the country with their family and arrived in Boise in 2003. However, their small business, Sunshine Spice Bakery & Cafe, continues to bring a fusion of Afghan flavors to the Boise Bench.

As the Taliban take control of the country after the United States ended the war after 20 years, Americans and Afghans who helped the United States military are now trying to flee the country.

The City of Trees has an extensive Afghan population, with refugees being relocated to Boise before the start of the war, including the Sham family, who fled the country shortly after the Taliban seized power in the 1990s. After about seven years of going through Iran and Turkey, the family made it to Boise. However, not all of the sisters made it to the United States.

Since opening up their business in 2019, Bahar and Khatera have been in the back of the café, creating recipes that are a fusion of Afghan favorites, like their pudding. Narges and Homeyra are responsible for the front-end of the business and took care of the finer touches, like the art that hangs on the walls of the café.

In 2003, the Sham sisters and their parents fled Afghanistan as refugees. Homeyra was just a toddler when her family left the country and doesn't remember much, except the horrors of the Taliban.

"I remember when the Taliban came cause, as they say when you're a kid and you experience something horrible, it always stays with you," she said.

Talking about her experiences regarding the Taliban with KTVB was difficult for Homeyra, who said she still has nightmares and gets flashbacks of what happened. She said it was especially difficult since she has a sister and niece still in Afghanistan.

"They knock on doors if somebody has younger girls they say you have to get married because you can't go outside without a man," Homeyra said.

For their family in Afghanistan, the situation in Kabul is intense.

"It's very scary because like they are not sure if they are safe to go buy food outside so like they are always in fear of going outside," Homeyra said.

It’s almost Mother’s Day and we want to see all the beautiful moms. Come in and treat her to a tart, hand-dipped...

Posted by Sunshine Spice Cafe on Saturday, May 8, 2021

With family still in Afghanistan, the sisters were sending some of their profits back to their sister and niece in order to help others in need.

"My sister and my niece, they were like a bridge between us, we would send them money and they would find families who are in need," Homeyra said. 

The crisis in Afghanistan is also impacting the sisters' business.

"My sister and my niece was the bridge they would send us saffron, this is tea we were going to launch in like a week. because of the Taliban, now we cannot do that," she said.

Based on what they did before when they were last in power, Homeyra doesn't believe the Taliban when they said they would be lenient with women's rights now that they're back in control of Afghanistan. 

"So from the beginning of opening this business we have faced so many difficulties but we never give up because we really need to help women in Afghanistan. If we cannot help them, who is going to help them?" Homeyra said.

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