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Afghan missing from business-training program

Farid Poya, left, pictured last week with Khalid

Farid Poya, left, pictured last week with Khalid Rahimi, another participant in the Peace Through Business program designed to show invitees business models that they can employ in their home countries. Credit: Craig Ruttle

Most of the Afghan businesspeople brought to the United States by the not-for-profit Bpeace are fully engaged in their programmed activities on Long Island — but one has gone "off visa" and can't be found, the group said.

Ahmad Farid Poya, 25, an Afghan citizen in the United States on a visa through Business Council for Peace, or Bpeace, had been scheduled to visit Tate's Bakeshop in Southampton Tuesday, said Toni Maloney, the group’s chief executive. He's shown at left in the photo above.

"Farid went off his visa Sunday morning and we terminated him from the program," Maloney said Tuesday. "We reported that to the State Department because they partially fund our program."

Poya will be sent home if he's located by U.S. authorities, she said. He had been staying in New York City. Scheduled to be at Tate’s Bakeshop in Southampton from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. to help the baker and cake decorator, he did not show up.

A database search of articles back to 2003 on Maloney's program did not turn up any other reports of similar visa violations by participants.

Maloney said participants go through “a rigorous visa program" through the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan, and Bpeace works with them for six months to a year in their native country before they arrive in the U.S. "They're of good character. They have businesses. But sometimes, and not just with Afghans, they come and find our country has lures" that lead them astray, she said.

"It's very disappointing for us because we invested time in him in him and in the development of his business. It's not unusual for this to happen, and it happens with people from many countries."

Participants are required to take part in Bpeace's activities, and if they do not show up for the activities they are in violation.

He is one of 10 young Afghan entrepreneurs brought to the area by Bpeace, a nonprofit that helps entrepreneurs in conflict-afflicted countries establish businesses and create employment. The organization works toward an end to violence in those countries by helping businesses create jobs.

With Poya in the photo above is Khalid Rahimi, right, another participant in the Peace Through Business program.

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