Afghan girl

Jane Torres has a heart for rescuing girls from Afghanistan.

The trauma these girls have experienced -- being threatened with death, or forced marriage to a Taliban fighter, coupled with the heartbreak of leaving family members to travel through territories with different languages and cultures – is something she feels others can empathize with.

Torres, who has lived in Key Biscayne for 40 years, said providing updates on efforts to rescue the girls are critical since the situation changes daily, if not hourly.

“One minute we think the girls can fly out of Afghanistan, and the next minute they have to travel overland to reach the border,” she said. “Our huge success to date has been rescuing a group of 250 girls and their families by taking them overland to Pakistan, where they are ready to fly to Canada.

“The Canadian government has offered to provide resettlement services for one year to this group,” she added, so we know they will be safe and well taken care of.”

Torres became involved with the effort to help Afghan girls after being contacted by the Tufts University Institute for Global Leadership to help an Afghan family of a Tufts graduate. Torres is also a Tufts alumnus.

She joined a group of volunteers who have come together to save as many Afghan schoolgirls as possible.

Torres’ background is in human relations, cross cultural communication and marriage and family therapy. The team of volunteers she belongs to is spread out across the US and Puerto Rico, with support from caring people around the world.

“Our challenge now is to bring another group of about 220 girls and families out of Pakistan and onward to their destination in a third country,” she said. “Ecuador has very graciously agreed to accept them, so we -- Warrior Angels Rescue -- must arrange for their resettlement needs.”

Warrior Angels Rescue coordinates directly with international embassies and state departments, commercial and charter airlines, and ground operations to get people quickly and safely to their new homes.

In the past, the nonprofit was able to evacuate nearly 500 people fromPuerto Rico after Hurricane Maria devastated the island, distributed over 80,000 pounds of emergency supplies to the island, and transported 30 medical personnel to assist with relief efforts.

The nonprofit has also assisted in the Montecito, Calif., mudslides relief efforts, and has also helped those affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Its current efforts, according to the group’s website. are with the unfolding humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan -- specifically, bringing vulnerable girls and women to safe harbor countries.

When the Taliban assumed power in August, girls and women across Afghanistan realized their world would never be the same, according to the Warrior Angels Rescue site. The group is working to evacuate a group of 270 school girls and their families who, unless they escape, face a violent, bleak future.

The team has secured safe harbor for them in Canada and Ecuador.

“We are trying to make these adjustments as easy as possible by working with organizations like CARE in the destination country,” Torres said. “One huge obstacle, though, and one which we must overcome, will be to provide funding for their housing, food, clothing, medical care, schooling, and support services once they reach Ecuador and can get on their feet.

“Sometimes I worry that we won't have the funds to take care of these girls, but the alternative is to leave them in Afghanistan to suffer at the hands of the Taliban and lose all possibilities of schooling and careers.

“So, of course, we keep working and hoping for the generosity of our neighbors to help raise these funds.”

Visit www.warriorangelsrescue.org for information on the organization’s mission or to contribute.

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