“We could hear gunfire, children were scared, everyone was trying to sit low on the ground to avoid the bullets. It was hard to breathe,” she says.
Still stuck in Kabul, the young mother of three says it is difficult to picture a life ahead.
“We have nothing left in our lives but constant fear, stress, anxiety and an uncertain future,” she says.
Her message to the Canadian government? “Help the people of Afghanistan in these uncertain times.”
The federal government is working to evacuate at-risk Afghans and permanent residents from Afghanistan, and has committed to relocating 20,000 residents.
But you can help too. Here’s how.
Organizations supporting Afghans
Many Canadian and international organizations are working to support Afghans both at home and abroad, and are seeking volunteers or donations.
Women for Women International is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping female survivors of war. They have already reached their goal of $500,000 that will go directly towards an emergency response for women who have escaped Afghanistan and those still on the ground, but they say every donation will still help.
“Our foundational training helps women know and defend their rights, lead mentally and physically healthy lives, influence decisions at home and in their communities, generate income, and save money for the future, contributing to economic self-sufficiency in their lives and for their families,” the organization’s website says.
Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan is a volunteer not-for-profit organization committed to educating and providing educational opportunities for women and girls in Afghanistan. Their recent emergency response project is accepting donations that will be used “to provide essentials in Afghanistan, from diapers and formula to food, water, and blankets.”
Afghan Women’s Organization Refugee and Immigrant Services is a non-profit organization based in the Greater Toronto Area that helps Afghan newcomers to Canada get settled in. They primarily work with women and their families, refugees and survivors of war and persecution. Their programming includes mental health services and counselling, settlement counselling, family and food support services.
International Refugee Assistance Project organizes law students and lawyers around the world to “develop and enforce a set of legal and human rights for refugees and displaced persons.” Currently, IRAP is working to help bring displaced Afghans to safety by providing free legal services and litigation.
UNICEF Canada is a child-focused humanitarian organization that is working to provide communities in Afghanistan with clean water, medical aid and nutrition support, provide safe spaces for women and children and support families who have become displaced.
“Islamic Relief is on the ground working to distribute emergency aid to those most in need,” their website says.
“Your support will reach Afghanistan through urgent food supplies, hygiene kits, water storage kits and shelter supplies.”
Veterans Transition Network is a national Canadian charity focused on helping veterans transition from the military. They are asking for donations for their Emergency Support for Afghan Interpreters program, which will “provide shelter and support to interpreters in Afghanistan awaiting evacuation to Canada.”
Miles4Migrants is a charity that uses donated frequent flyer miles to help people and their immediate family members fleeing war, persecution or disaster who may be legally authorized to travel to safety but can’t afford the flight.
International Media Support is a non-profit organization that aims to support journalists working in war-torn and high-risk areas. They have partnered with the Afghan Journalists Safety Committee and are collecting funds to provide Afghan journalists with shelters and safe-houses, food, clothing, blankets, utilities and supports to keep the country’s independent media outlets running.
The federal government has a system of supports in place for Canadians who wish to sponsor Afghan refugees once they arrive. Deciding to sponsor a refugee is a commitment that usually lasts for up to one year in Canada. According to Immigration Canada’s website, approved sponsors are often tasked with helping refugees with startup and monthly costs for basic necessities like housing, food, furniture, clothing and access to public transportation.
Sponsorship Agreement Holders are organizations that the federal government has signed sponsorship agreements with.
According to Immigration Canada, a Group of Five is “five or more Canadian citizens or permanent residents who have arranged to sponsor a refugee living abroad to come to Canada.”
Groups can choose to sponsor either an individual refugee or a refugee family.
Write to the federal government
Contacting a member of Parliament is a useful way to have your voice heard and demand action from your government.
Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan, for example, is calling on Canadians to send a letter to Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino and demand that the federal government “act swiftly to safely evacuate as many vulnerable Afghans as possible.”
Unsure of how to contact an MP?
The House of Commons keeps an active list of all MPs on its website that includes office phone numbers, addresses and email addresses. Canadians can find their local MP by typing their postal codes into the search bar.