ROWW has been sickened by the sudden and violent siege in Afghanistan and want to get involved to help those fleeing the country. We are in the process of locating where the refugees are being taken so we can lend aid. Our goal is to provide medical care, hygienic products, clothes, food, water, etc.
August 30th –
Day 1 – We linked up with Team Members from the IBC and other relief organizations supporting the refugee crisis in Europe and the Middle East. What we found is that many Afghans are paying everything they have to hire smugglers to get them out of the country. While effective this is very dangerous. Most are left with nothing because the smugglers take it all…No documents, no money and oftentimes injured. One young man around 16 years old was stabbed and recovering in the basement we found him in. He had no access to healthcare as he is undocumented and here in Turkey illegally. If he were to go to the clinic he would be detained and put into an indefinite hold until the country of Afghanistan figures out who’s going to rule their country. If it’s the Taliban, and he goes back, likely death for abandoning his country. He was one of the 30 young men we found in the basement where we sat with them and asked questions.
We also met a mother of 4 who’s husband is the Taliban. Her oldest son is 17 years old and was brought to Kabul by the Father for Taliban training and immersion. She took that opportunity to grab everything she could and flee the country with her other 3 kids. Her daughter has diabetes and often for the mother it’s a choice of buying food or insulin. A never ending cycle and all that the kids want to do is go back to school, read books again, and have another t-shirt to wear.
We met with an Afghan doctor today who is going to bring us to a concentrated Afghan area where many more are hiding.
Day 2 – We spent most of today meeting with different groups around various suburbs. More specifically we would find ourselves in suburbs that have a very strong Afghan presence. The needs continue to be consistent with assistance needed for legal, medical and education. We came across approximately 70 refugees with varying medical conditions.
The kids we met today were so excited to receive something as simple as a coloring book.
We also met Narges (pictured) who has Stage 4 cancer. She was receiving treatment in Afghanistan for her cancer and due to the Taliban situation she feared for her life and had already lost family members to the Taliban. She took her three kids and traveled by foot north. Now she is in a new country with no documents and no ability to receive public healthcare. Private healthcare is an option but because all of her money was also taken and she has no means to work. She has been left begging for food and shelter. It was more important to her to get her children out of the country than it was to deal with the pain of stage four cancer.
Day 3 – Our team received word of families hunkered down on the eastern side of the country so we decided to travel east! Upon landing we met up with a local Afghan NGO who is assisting with the refugee crisis. While the refugee situation is nothing new, the influx of cases for their organization has increased exponentially. Their community bands together as well as they can where they often offer up closets and other various holding areas to provide safe shelter. This particular room where they are staying has floors lined with carpet but there is no bedding, no pillows and only 1 hot plate to cook on. This is actually better than most. After assessing a number of families we decided to head off to the grocery store and buy 6 families enough groceries for two weeks as well as some toys for the kids. More assessments tomorrow. So many to help and every little bit helps provide some sort of relief. Even if only temporary.
Day 4 – We met some new contacts who were able to lead us to an area that has a pocket of roughly 2500 Afghan Refugees of which 1800 are children under the age of 17. The majority of which have arrived over the past 2 months and many as recent as this past week. Their stories are sad yet remarkable. Choosing to pack what’s important and travel by foot on a 45 + day journey all for the chance at a better life for their children. Rarely do you hear, “I had to leave for me” rather it’s “I had to leave for them and their future”.
We met one father who spent 3 months being tortured under the Taliban for his acceptance of various western views. Once he escaped he sold everything he had which was worth around $1,500 USD and traveled North.
So today we find ourselves making assessments of how local NGOs could be supported on a long term basis via funding / supplies and then we went shopping for winter clothing to support approximately 250 children. The seasons are about to change and they are only prepared for hot weather. Tomorrow we will distribute and head home.
This deployment was unique for us. But the team that went was adamant about getting involved. Humanitarian work can get blurry and we’re very proud of these volunteers for making the decision that the humans they are going to help are victims of the product and not the product itself, and so we went. We made sure we were amongst friendly interpreters who wanted the same things we wanted: help children, help families, and help the injured.