Earlier this year, we launched the Afghan Future Campaign — one of the biggest initiatives in the history of Spirit of America – on behalf of displaced Afghans in six countries. The Campaign continues our commitment to Afghans following the 2021 crisis. Three overarching goals shape our work:
- Promoting the education of displaced Afghans
- Supporting their transition to permanent countries
- Demonstrating the goodwill of the American people
So far, we’ve implemented nine projects on behalf of 3,000 displaced Afghans. The beneficiaries span various situations and legal statuses, including students in Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, and Iraqi Kurdistan, refugees in Tajikistan, and those evacuated from Afghanistan and are undergoing screening and processing at Camp As Sayliyah, a US Army base, in Qatar. We are able to work in so many countries and contexts because of our robust relationships with US missions and our expansive network of capable local partners.
Here is a snapshot of the Afghan Future Campaign by country:
Tajikistan: As the temporary home of more than 10,000 Afghan refugees, Tajikistan is our campaign’s central focus. Along with our Tajik partners and the US Embassy team, we funded renovations for an Afghan educational center serving over 1,500 boys and girls; provided vocational opportunities in fashion and handicraft making for Afghan women; provided computer programming and front-end development courses for Afghan students; and helped acclimate young Afghans to life in the West through educational and cultural programming.
Kazakhstan: We renovated and equipped a student club space at the Kazakh National Agrarian University, enabling more than 60 Afghan graduate students to gather, host cultural events, and receive academic assistance.
Lebanon: We worked with the American University Beirut and our local partner to provide funding for academic tutoring and Afghan student club activities. Additionally, we organized cultural trips and student retreats that focused on promoting psychosocial well-being and professional development.
Iraqi Kurdistan: Through our partnership with the American University of Iraq Sulaimani, we are funding student transportation costs, academic tutoring, and student club activities. Later this month, we’ll offer professional development seminars to help students prepare for the post-graduation job market.
Kyrgyzstan: We teamed up with the American University of Central Asia, which is host to more than 350 Afghan students, to fund much-needed psychosocial support, Kyrgyz and Russian language instruction, networking sessions, professional development seminars, and Afghan student club activities.
Qatar: In cooperation with the Coordinator for Afghan Relocation Efforts (CARE), we’re providing point-of-need aid to the roughly 1,000 Afghan evacuees at Camp As Sayliyah. So far this year, we’ve provided arts, crafts, and playground supplies.
We’re proud of the results we’ve achieved so far through the Afghan Future Campaign, and we’re thankful to our partners from Lebanon to Kazakhstan, without whom our work would not be possible.
Ultimately however, the work is not about Spirit of America or our partners. It’s about the brave Afghans we support. Recently, Fatima, one of the Afghan students at American University Beirut, shared the following farewell message with me before she immigrated to the US:
“I want to thank you and Spirit of America for the Afghan Future Campaign. Indeed, this campaign was necessary to bring us all together, boost our mental health, and give us the chance to explore this beautiful country. On each trip, not only did I enjoy the above-mentioned things, I also learned a lot from my fellow Afghans, as they represent “mini” Afghanistan here in Lebanon. I’m delighted that I’m ending my Lebanon and AUB journey on a good note. As AFC makes us happier, I hope and pray your life will also be full of happiness and joy.”
Fatima is now pursuing a master’s degree at Brown University, one of the top universities in the US.
Her future is bright.