“Taliban” sounds different when spoken by someone who has lived in Afghanistan. I was born and raised in the U.S. and have heard the name “Taliban” countless times. But when I began volunteering with the PERS Equality Center and the Afghan Coalition, the same three syllables in “Taliban” took on new significance. Reading about the Taliban shutting females out of schools is one thing, but speaking to people whose family members have been shut of school, is another. Reading about kidnapping is one thing, but speaking to someone whose relative was held captive for months, is another. And murder noted in a headline is not the same as speaking to someone whose close relative was murdered in front of their home.
People can debate military strategy and whether withdrawal of the U.S. military from Afghanistan was too early, too late, or perfectly timed. But reasonable people cannot debate that there are scores of people in Afghanistan uniquely in need right now while the Taliban controls the country.
For anyone who believes that all people are created equal, any group that would systematically shut down education or job opportunities for approximately one-half the resident population has created an imbalance that must not go unchecked. Afghans have told me that the U.S. military provided tremendous support to Afghans for many years. The U.S. military’s time keeping peace in Afghanistan has ended. Regardless of how any American feels about the military’s withdrawal, it is the current reality which must be faced. I am eternally grateful to military service members including many of my family members and friends. But I encourage other Americans to do more than thank our service members. There are many living in Afghanistan who helped the U.S. military as translators, contractors or informal allies. These Afghans are part of our military team and are deserving of our thanks, and our help.
All females in Afghanistan are at risk of persecution as well as those who helped the U.S. or Afghan government. The U.S. government has taken steps to help these allies and other Afghans in danger, but more assistance is needed. I encourage anyone who has any time or money to spare to consider the imbalance growing in Afghanistan.
If you can make a monetary donation, consider helping on or before the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. The “Giving Tuesday” campaign will help our program raise funds for filing fees, translation services, continued staffing for humanitarian parole applications for Afghans in particular danger: https://www.facebook.com/donate/1255255584912651/4584390584933046/. If you have time to volunteer, please reach out to me, and I will try to connect you with an appropriate organization. Attorneys can complete training and assist Afghans with humanitarian parole applications for those left behind.