Over the past month, Spirit of America helped with the evacuation of 121 Afghans from Kabul to Albania, and is now supporting them in Albania while they navigate the long and complex resettlement process.
On August 26, I received a call from Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin asking for Spirit of America’s help. Her team was working to get the group through the Kabul airport gates and out of Afghanistan. If they were lucky enough to get out, they would need a destination for the plane and a way to care for these Afghans. Working alongside US Embassy Tirana, we obtained permission from the Albanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to have the plane land in Tirana, after which Spirit of America would take over their care and treatment.
On August 27 at 11pm, the first plane landed in Tirana. With US Ambassador Yuri Kim and Albanian Foreign Minister Olta Xhaçka, I greeted the Afghans as they stepped off the plane. Two days later, the second flight arrived with the rest of the evacuees in our group.
The range of emotions from our new Afghan friends was palpable: confusion, exhaustion, grief, relief, hope.
Over the last four weeks, Spirit of America has cared for their needs, ranging from paying for their room and board to providing them with hygiene kits, laundry supplies, baby formula, diapers, clothing, phone chargers and adapters, shoes, and more. Every need we have identified has been tailored to each individual and family.
The group of 121 evacuees consists of 22 families, 63 women, and 38 minors. We have families with up to eight people, we have single women, we have elderly people, and we just celebrated a baby’s first birthday.
It has been an honor to meet and help these 121 people through such a tragic time. In the group there are Fulbright Scholars, PhDs, interpreters who worked with US troops, former Deputy Ministers, female graduate students, and IMF and World Bank partners and implementers, to name a few.
These people, who were loyal partners to the United States and who dedicated the last 20 years of their lives to the betterment of Afghanistan, deserve our support to help them lead a dignified life while they await the resettlement process.
The 121 stories of bravery and the hopes they have for their futures are humbling. I hope you will join me in caring for them; it is a mammoth undertaking to now be responsible for 121 lives, and we can’t do it without your help.
Regional Director – Europe
PS: The inspiring story of three Afghans in our group was recently chronicled by the Washington Post. I encourage you to read it here.