The response to help the people of Afghanistan during this tragic time has been overwhelming. I am kicking myself for not being able to respond to messages of support and offers to help in a timely manner. I wanted to share a few resources on ways in which you can help the Afghans as the humanitarian crisis unfolds in the country. While the eyes of the world were fixated on the airport in Kabul, the human suffering and displacement of Afghans has been rampant across the provinces. As evacuations wind down, the focus must shift to helping increase humanitarian resources in Afghanistan.
If you’re interested in donating money to aid organizations, there are many to choose from. While I can’t tell you which outfit to donate to, in my experience, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has done incredible work in Afghanistan. This is not an endorsement by any means, but I’ve worked with the ICRC in theatre, and I’ve always had wonderful interactions with their staff, constantly inspired by their dedication to do good in the world.
Listen to Afghans. Look, politics aside, the truth of the matter is that over the past 20 years, policy makers didn’t listen to the voices of Afghans, and look at where we are today. There are scores of brilliant Afghan academics in universities across the world (there’s a flourishing community of them on Twitter). Invite them to your discussions, podcasts, research groups, etc. Also, there are Afghan student clubs on campuses filled with young people eager to share their culture and history with you. These students are in tune with what’s happening in the community, and they can plug you in on ways in which you can help. Maybe they can tell you about a trip to the airport to welcome Afghan refugees to America, or a rally where people come together to demand justice for the oppressed.
Find Afghans who work in your organizations and lend them your support. Perhaps you can work together on drafting memorandums to send to management, encouraging them to provide jobs to Afghan refugees, or even making monetary contributions to aid organizations who will be working in Afghanistan long after the last military aircraft leaves Kabul. My point being, you have Afghan colleagues that you may not even be aware of, and they can bring you into the fold on how you can help.
For the veteran community, find other vets who can direct you to groups that are helping with evacuations, even at this late hour. There are so many veterans who are volunteering their time to help the people of Afghanistan, and they are not all doing it from their basements or home offices. Veterans are mobilized globally, to include on the ground in Afghanistan, trying to get at-risk Afghans to safety. They need monetary support to execute these missions because, again, they are volunteers, and they don’t have the mighty budget of the Department of Defense to back them. They are trying to do what our government won’t: do right by our Afghan comrades.
I’m certain there are more ways to help than I can think of at this moment, but I wanted to get this message out so that we don’t lose momentum and opportunities to help Afghans in their critical hour of need. Oh, and please, do not insinuate that the Taliban must show that they have changed. It is insulting to Afghans who have to endure the viciousness of Taliban thugs. Afghans do not want the Taliban. Under the Taliban, Afghanistan had one of the worst human rights records in the world. Let’s not be naïve. Just as a zebra doesn’t change its stripes, nor do these vile Talibs. Remember the celebrations after the Taliban were toppled in 2001? Afghanistan’s heart was beating again, its rich culture revived. All of that is now reversed, and it’s upsetting for anyone to suggest that the Taliban must show they have changed. They are illegitimate in the eyes of Afghans, and that is all that matters.
Finally, a few days ago my friend Ken Merlo sent me a beautiful note, part of which I will share:
“I am reminded of an often quoted saying from one of the Good Books aka the Torah.
“It was for this reason that man was first created as one person [Adam], to teach you that anyone who destroys a life is considered by Scripture to have destroyed an entire world; and anyone who saves a life is as if he saved an entire world.” (Mishnah, Sanhedrin 4:5)””
This verse from the Torah reminded me of a verse in the Quran (5:32): “Whosoever killed a person … it shall be as if he had killed all mankind. If anyone saved a life it would be as if he saved the life of the whole humanity.”
We are all one people. Hate is a terrible thing to have in your heart (I forgive you, Trae Young). We can do so much good towards each other through love. I wish the people of Afghanistan one day feel the love the world has for them. They will not be forgotten, and we will find a way to help them escape the darkness of the Taliban.
Thank you all for your continued support of the Afghan people. We pray for their strength until we are together with them again.
Junaid-ul Islam Lughmani