The world has been shaken with the spiral events in Afghanistan. To some of us, familiar with the country, it wasn't a total surprise. However, the speed (and how events unfolded) was. These past few days, I reached out to friends and former colleagues who still live there. More than ever, I think constantly about my time spent in Afghanistan in 2017 and all the people I met there. Back then I remember being hopeful despite the grim reality on the ground. I hoped that all that militarization would come to an end eventually. I saw roses blooming inside the barbed wires and children playing with kites. I saw beauty and immense hospitality in the midst of despair. I met people who wanted to believe better days were ahead. It was always clear - to say that the Afghans were tired of the war is an understatement. Every time I would ask an Afghan what they wanted for their country, the response was always the same: peace, a normal life, a chance to live without fear, to work and not depend on handouts, to heal a country wounded for too long. Yet, for many decades, history was not on their side.
While in Afghanistan I was inspired to start Rena Roots, our drop to support the wonderful initiative of planting roses (instead of opium) and supporting livelihoods. Jobs always lead to empowerment and dignity over aid dependency. I was hopeful then and I want to be hopeful now as improbable as it may seem. However, I am heartbroken. There are no winners in war. To quote a friend, “in the past decades we have surely learned how conflicts are created but we have forgotten how they are resolved.”
As Afghanistan enters a new era, I want to be filled with less fear and more hope. It is hard to do that now. But I want to believe that peace will prevail, new hopes will be born, and that women will sit as equals with men to rebuild and put together the pieces that remain.
What Can You Do?
- Stay informed through different sources, not just social media. Informed citizens are able to collectively influence decision-making of your country's leaders and their policies. See below some resources and analytical articles giving historical context to the current situation.
- Check websites of NGOs in your country who most likely need volunteers to support Afghan refugees upon arrival with airport pickups, meal assistance etc.
- Rena Roots will give 10% of each Afghan Rose Serum sold over the next 2 months to support education efforts in Afghanistan (through one of the organizations below). We will continue to source the rose oil from Afghanistan and support jobs there as long as we can.
- I recommend giving to the following organizations. I hope that aid organizations will continue to deliver without restrictions and can maintain their impartiality and commitment to the people of Afghanistan.
- Home | The Linda Norgrove Foundation
- Afghanistan | EMERGENCY
- Home - Women For Afghan Women
- UN WFP Afghanistan/Share the Meal App. I worked with WFP for almost 10 years and although the UN has their limitations, WFP and its partners were always able to deliver in some of the most remote areas in Afghanistan.
- Email the White House through the International Rescue Committee
- Legal resources for Afghan refugees
- Analysis/Opinion "We all lost Afghanistan"
- Analysis "Taliban's Winning Strategy in Afghanistan"
Check this page for more updates and email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if any suggestions.
Some of my pictures while in Afghanistan