SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- It's a story two decades in the making, but one without a happy ending.
"The immediate reaction is how could this be happening. It seems like a reversal of everything that we've done in the last 20 years," said Mizgon Zahir Darby, an Afghan American writer and educator.
She says the events currently unfolding in Afghanistan have left her community devastated.
"20 years ago there was a sentiment of hope. Today there's a sentiment of grief. It's hopelessness now," she said.
Zahir Darby still has family in the country.
And although she was able to get in touch with them Sunday morning, she still fears for the safety of her cousins and aunt.
"She was afraid. She didn't know what was going to happen to her. And she didn't know what was going to happen to her children," Zahir Darby said.
But beyond the immediate connection, Zahir Darby says her heart also breaks for other afghans too - especially women and young children.
"It's not a question of if, it's a question of when these young girls' lives are going to be destroyed," she said.
With the country falling apart seemingly overnight, many are asking what happened?
Congressman Eric Swalwell represents California's 15th district, the heart of the local Afghan community.
He told ABC7 News, it's not a time to focus on what went wrong, but instead on what we need to do next.
"I support the effort to deploy troops to protect the embassy, and to make sure that Americans, allied partners and eligible afghans that helped us are able to get out as quickly as possible," Swalwell said.
But for Zahir Darby, those people are only the tip of the iceberg
And she knows the work to be done in helping out, is only just beginning.
"Without hope, without any kind of life to look forward to, the only thing they will have to look forward to is survival."