Afghan refugees fleeing the Taliban need your help

TW: this story contains graphic descriptions of violence

Afghanistan may be thousands of miles away, but the humanitarian crisis currently happening is affecting our own Calvin family. 

People are often surprised when I tell them I was a shepherd in the hills of Kabul, raised in poverty and landmines. I was a shepherd who loved the destroyed palaces and libraries of Afghanistan, the ruins of school buildings I saw come back to life and breed some of the bravest individuals I have ever known. 

About seven years ago, I was very fortunate to escape the Taliban and pursue my education in the United States. Then, on Aug. 15 this year, Afghanistan collapsed and once again became dominated by the enemies of humanity. Several weeks ago, I had accepted that Aug. 15 would be the last time I ever heard my mom’s voice. That morning I fell to my knees as I heard gunshots over the phone and my family screaming as they watched bodies falling around them by the Kabul airport. That day, hope was the only thing that kept me alive. 

By the grace of God, my family was recently evacuated. My family served alongside U.S. military corporations for many years in Afghanistan which put them in high risk. In addition, my family is Hazara, the indigenous ethnic minority that is currently facing a genocide. As you might imagine, being a part of these categories means torture and death by the Taliban, who have recently taken complete control of Afghanistan. Some of my own friends and families were recently slaughtered, beheaded and crucified — we are talking about crucifixion in 2021, not about a story from biblical history. 

My family, like many others, left with all of their belongings behind. However, the trauma and pain does not end there. While still in Kabul, they had to be in hiding for many days, spending over a week without much food or water. They had to burn all of their documents, school books and even toys as the Taliban went through our town, knocking door to door. For four days, they tried to make it to the airport before the Aug. 31 deadline. During their last attempt, the activation of tear gas almost ended their lives. All four of my nieces and nephews were trampled and separated from my sister and my mother. My sister passed out, broke a rib and dislocated a shoulder. My mother fractured a leg in two places, yet she still found the courage to find the rest of the family. 

For many Afghan refugees like my family, being relocated to the United States means starting from zero. As servants of God, it is our obligation to put on our armor of service and provide them with a place of refuge. 

Today, because of the sudden abandonment and incompetence of the Biden administration, both Afghans and U.S. citizens still stranded in Afghanistan have to suffer.

As a village, as a Calvin community, we have the power to pick up our Afghan allies and walk beside them during this time.”

Here at Calvin, we have promised to think deeply, to act justly and to live wholeheartedly as Christ’s agents of renewal in the world. I want to remind you of this mission, and ask how you will help when duty calls in a time such as this. As a village, as a Calvin community, we have the power to pick up our Afghan allies and walk beside them during this time. Today, I call you to take action. You can donate to my nonprofit, Sew True, or through gift cards to help my family, and you can donate your time and skills to help make meals, provide transportation and assist with people who speak English as their language. Hold your elected officials accountable, telling them to not forget the U.S. citizens and Afghan allies stranded in Afghanistan. Calvin University, Grand Rapids residents, now is the time. We are the village that can bring healing to the rest of the world.