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By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Kabul Star Restaurant, one of four businesses destroyed by the blaze

January 11, 2022 (El Cajon) – A fire destroyed four businesses in the Broadway Plaza Shopping Center in El Cajon  on January 5.  Two beauty shops, a smoke shop and an Afghan restaurant were destroyed.

A GoFundMe site has been set up to assist Karim Wafa, owner of the Kabul  Star restaurant, and his family including four young children after the fire turned their dreams into ashes.

The family has weathered a series of challenges.  Wafa came to the U.S. as a refugee from war-torn Afghanistan five years ago.  He says he and his wife worked hard, stocking groceries by day and driving Uber nights and weekends to save up to open the restaurant.

“The pandemic threw a wrench into our dreams,” Wafa states on the GoFundMe page.  “Even then, we kept our dream going by offering take out and catering.”

He was awakened by a call at 2:30 a.m. on January 5th alerting him of the fire.  He rushed to the scene to find neighbors and other good Samaritans using fire extinguishers until Heartland Fire arrived, but despite all efforts they could not save the building. There were no injuries, but the impacts for Wafa and his family are devastating.

“It took us months and years of hardworking, giving up all comfort, sacrificing little things in life just to save all I could to start my dream restaurant and it took just hours for all of it to be burned down. My family and I are completely devastated,” he says.

The couple had dreamed of giving a good life to their children, ages 8, 10, 12 and 14.

“My eldest wants to do get good education and serve this country by enlisting in the Navy. He believes he has to give back to this country which he considers his own. The country which brought his family out of rubbles and help put food on the table,” Wafa says.

“This country is a land of opportunities and I am hopeful to rebuild my dream, our dream as a family. For this, I am seeking support from my community, so I can build back my restaurant and fulfill the dream of giving my family a good life while serving my community,” he says, adding, “Any help and prayers are appreciated.”


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