Dear Peaceful Tomorrows Members and Friends,
Many of you are aware of the partnership PT has had with a group of young Afghans for over ten years. Most of them lost multiple family members to the war which had been raging in their homeland since before they were born. And yet these youngsters chose – as we chose – not to allow hatred and the wish for revenge to consume their lives. Rather they, with unbelievable wisdom and courage, chose to seek nonviolent ways to step into their futures.
Over the years they created programs to bring opportunity and hope to some of the poorest and most disenfranchised members of their community. They created a school for street children, a safe place for young girls to congregate, taught women to sew offering them a livelihood, produced duvets for refugees suffering through the frigid winters in tents and began a permaculture project teaching sustainable farming practice.
Peaceful Tomorrows was founded in the tumultuous days after 9-11 when our government rushed headlong into a war of revenge. The people of Afghanistan bore the brunt of that rage. Those of us who wanted desperately to avert it tried diligently to speak against the forces driving this misbegotten onslaught.
It is obvious why we as Peaceful Tomorrows members felt such a particular and enormous affinity for these young Afghans. Despite the fact that their entire young lives were engulfed by the war and against stupendous odds, they were living their convictions. And they continue to hold fast to their beliefs in nonviolence and compassion. We have a great deal to learn from them.
The Taliban takeover immediately made it so dangerous for them, we couldn’t contact them or even mention their names. It obliterated all but their spirits and our friends scattered. Many of our young friends have fled the country and many seek to follow. They face huge obstacles – especially true for the young women among them.
PT’s Afghanistan Committee is partnering with an International Team of dedicated folks who are striving to assist, in whatever ways possible, the safe journeys of our young Afghan friends to welcoming countries and the possibility of new lives.
Below is a letter from our dear friend, Kathy Kelly, which details some of the background of these efforts. There is good news to be sure, but much more to be done. If you wish to help, Kathy includes information about ways to do so through both funding and personal support by becoming a ‘buddy’.
I hope you will join us.
Andrea LeBlanc and Kelly Campbell Co-Chairs, Afghanistan Committee September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows
LETTER FROM KATHY KELLY
Dear Friends, We write with gratitude to the many individuals, families, foundations and faith-based groups which have enabled dozens of remarkable Afghan activists to resettle in safer havens. We’re also grateful for relationships that continue developing between our international team and young Afghans hoping to resettle in another country. Some of us have known one another for over ten years. Some are meeting one another, through correspondence, calls, and zoom meetings, for the first time. We feel enlivened by shared challenges and growing resilience.
Photo: Abdulhai Darya A bit of background for those who might just be learning about the “Afghan Generations” project: Following the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August of 2021, an ad hoc team of internationals began regular zoom meetings, coordinating efforts to assist Afghan activists who, for security reasons, have asked that we not name them or their group. The inspiring efforts of young Afghans to share resources, seek equality, protect the planet and abolish all war, along with their willingness to host Western visitors, has sadly jeopardized their lives. Mutually beneficial relationships have developed over the past eighteen months leading to some very good news for those who have engaged in resettlement efforts. As of now, we’re relieved to offer this report: From among the former volunteers: six of the activists are now in Germany; six are in Brazil, five are in Canada, one young woman has joined her spouse in the Netherlands, eight (including one infant!) have been in Portugal since spring of 2022 and, on February 18, 2023, seventeen young Afghans (including one infant!) arrived in Portugal. Here is a link to photos of our friends arriving in Lisbon’s airport and then getting to know people in Leiria. https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/16nzSJtbAxfplwxThJ0jKKHNnoSqAiJja?usp=share_link Late last year, we were fortunate to connect with the Asociación Yaran, a group in Spain’s northern province, Galicia, dedicated to helping Afghans resettle in their region. Members of the Spanish team are exploring possibilities for obtaining student visas to Spain that would allow many of the people now on our list awaiting resettlement to begin University studies in Galicia. Before seeking refuge in another country, people fleeing Afghanistan must first cross into a country neighboring Afghanistan. For this reason, many have fled to Pakistan. Last year, our team of internationals worked with young Afghans in Pakistan to set up a safe space which housed young people awaiting visas to Portugal. Now, plans for a new safe space are underway. Two flats have been rented and furnished, and soon the young people who are living there will welcome 13 new housemates. We are hoping it will be possible for all of them to obtain student visas to Spain. In the past year, our group of internationals has appealed to a broad base of donors spanning several continents to raise funds covering visas to Pakistan, temporary housing in Pakistan, and airfare to another country. The projects underway in Portugal are models for humane, holistic and dignified resettlement plans. Now, looking toward northern Spain as a possible destination for young friends facing precarity and desperation in Afghanistan, we welcome your support. We’re grateful to the renowned permaculturist, Starhawk, and the NGO she works with: “The Alliance of Community Trainers,” for their willingness to be fiscal sponsors for our ongoing efforts. Below is information about making contributions. Please note that for U.S. taxpayers these contributions are tax deductible. For online donations: https://secure.givelively.org/donate/alliance-of-community-trainers/earth-activists-emergency-fund-for-afghan-relief Checks can be made payable to Alliance of Community Trainers with Afghan Relief written in the memo section, and sent to David Kast at: 311 S. 7th Avenue, Wausau, WI 54401 (The Alliance of Community Trainers will send U.S. taxpayers a statement of their charitable donation at the end of 2023). Dave Kast’s bookkeeping has been indispensable for us. He’ll continue keeping careful account of contributions and will regularly forward the checks to the Alliance of Community Trainers. It’s encouraging to see how the group that formed a caring, equitable safe space over the past year, in Pakistan, has guided newcomers to understand what worked so well for them during the difficult months they spent together. The buddy system has helped immeasurably, pairing young Afghans with people living outside the region, allowing lively exchanges and deepening relationships. We invite you to assist with this new fundraising effort, aiming to help young Afghans reach a safer haven, possibly in Spain (or elsewhere, should another option arise). Please consider sharing this letter with others, or, if possible, arrange a donation. And if you’d like to join the buddy system, welcome aboard! (write firstname.lastname@example.org) Sincerely, Kathy Kelly on behalf of an ad hoc international team seeking to assist Afghan activists facing crises.