For the past 3 weeks I’ve been working with a team of volunteers to rescue Afghan school girls as the situation in Afghanistan grows increasingly dangerous. The girls we are hoping to save are in particular danger because they face persecution due to their academic achievements and activism, or because they will be forced into child marriage with Taliban fighters.
As Shabana Basij-Rasikh the co-founder and president of the School of Leadership in Afghanistan wrote in the Washington Post article September 1, 2021:
In mid-July, in a rural part of Afghanistan, two sisters made a promise.
They’d just arrived home for their semester break from their boarding school in Kabul, and their grandmother came to see them, carrying scythes. The Taliban, resurgent, was drawing closer to their village. This woman told her granddaughters to take these curved blades, and she told them that if Taliban fighters ever came to the house, the girls must be swift. There would be no time to hesitate.
If the Taliban comes into this house, she said, use these scythes to kill yourselves.
The girls promised that they would.
I know these girls well. They’re two of nearly 100 students at the School of Leadership, Afghanistan
Our team of volunteers, in partnership with Tufts Global Leadership, the law firm of Selendy & Gay, and Future Brilliance is coordinating with Warrior Angels Rescue (WAR), a US-based non-profit with a focus on evacuating individuals from high-risk zones (learn more about our previous work here).
Here’s a very brief description of the complexity and danger of this mission. First, we must find a country that will accept a few of the girls and provide resettlement services for at least a year, as Canada has. But there are at least another 600 who need to leave.
Then we must get them out of Afghanistan. The Kabul airport is closed. We must find another landing strip, arrange for a charter plane to get there, and help the girls get to the landing strip through multiple Taliban check points. When they are out of Afghanistan, we must then secure lodging, meals and assistance for them as they wait for transfer to the country that has agreed to accept them. The amount of money, logistics, coordination and help from people who care is, sometimes, overwhelming.
To keep going, we remember these words of Shabana Basij-Rasikh:
Educated girls grow to become educated women, and educated women will not allow their children to become terrorists. The secret to a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan is no secret at all: It is educated girls.
Don’t look away from Afghanistan. I ask nothing of you that I don’t demand of myself. My SOLA community and I are among the tremendously fortunate who have departed Afghanistan for other lands — Rwanda, in our case. From this place of safety, I see those in my country who feel so terribly unsafe. They cannot leave, and you cannot look away.
Of women, theTaliban says:: “We must show them respect.” I say, show me that you mean what you say. Show the girls in Kabul and in the provinces. Show their families.
Show the world.
Click here to listen to the words of a young girl who was able to escape
Please don’t look away.