I don’t like writing about things from an emotionally heightened state, often when I try it just doesn’t come out right. Some people can write in a way that causes others to rally, or empathize, or sympathize, or something, but not I. When I try to write moving content, inevitably it falls short, and it’s CTRL+A delete for me!
I’m not generally moved by a sense of right and wrong, or a sense of morality, I’m not generally moved by politics, or virtue, or duty. When I’m moved, it’s generally by people, the stories of people, the lives of people, the experiences of real people in real situations.
On August 30, 2021, I was moved. The US withdrawal from Afghanistan has more depth than I can personally comprehend, but what I do understand is that the lives of Afghan people, especially women and girls can no longer be the same. The Taliban is no friend to women and no friend to freedom. Especially, and from my point of view most tragically, the freedom of education. On August 30, 2021 any progressive footing established in Afghanistan was immediately shut down. On that day, Women and girls with an eye for progress, especially those who experienced the light of hope were forced into darkness.
I wanted to help, I still want to help, but with limited resources I had no idea where to start or what to do. So, I began asking questions, I started conversations, I started listening, in essence I started learning.
I looked within the climbing community to see where and how we could get involved. There’s a nonprofit called Ascend Athletics that has been working in Afghanistan for years. Their mission was to engage in a high impact leadership program through climbing in order to help Afghan women reach their potential. On August 30, 2021, that mission ended. Since then, the mission of Ascend Athletics has been to secure visas wherever possible to save Afghan women. As visas are secured, money needs to be raised for flights, and housing, and clothing, and everything else a family would need to start their life over in a foreign land. They are doing amazing work, but like most nonprofits they can’t do it alone. They need help and resources.
Their site can be found Here. The documentary film Ascending Afghanistan: Women Rising, by Pablo Durana captures the work that Ascend Athletics is doing. It’s violent, and moving, heartwarming, and heartbreaking, but very much worthy of your time. theDIHEDRAL is currently attempting to raise money for the Afghan women of Ascend who have lost nearly everything, hopefully we can do a good job, but if not, then hopefully we can at least help raise awareness.
If you would like to donate, we have a link on our Instagram page, or you can make a contribution right on the Ascend Athletics website.
If you’re like me and have limited monetary resources but still want to help, there are other ways. You can share links to nonprofits like Ascend Athletics, you can hold fundraisers to spread awareness, and raise money, and just as important you can share your time.
I was lucky enough to speak with Afghan Climber, and motivational speaker Mariam Shareefy1 a few weeks ago. I asked her what someone with minimal funds and connections could do to help, and her response was beautiful. She simply said, “talk to people”.
Mariam is absolutely right. Imagine being a refugee. Someone who had to give up the only life they’ve even known in the hopes that starting over with nothing in a foreign country may be better. Imagine arriving in a foreign land, not sure if you’ll be accepted, not knowing how your kids are going to be treated, not knowing how you’ll pay for your next meal, or where you’ll be able to lay your head, not knowing the language, and not having any friends or family around. In addition to all of this is the knowledge that you’ll probably never see your family, friends, or homeland ever again.
Who cares if you don’t have money or resources to help? Talk to people. Consider someone who has travelled halfway across the world with nothing but uncertainty, imagine how it would feel for someone to simply ask “how is your morning”. With tools like Zoom, and Webex, and Google Workspace, holding a monthly chat with someone or a small group just to help them practice speaking a new language could be a life changing opportunity. Sharing stories about different cultures, finding similarities in unlikely places, these types of things have value for all parties.
People escaping Afghanistan need help, and I’m not asking you to help, I know people do what they can within their means to help how they see fit, and I know people are moved in different directions by different causes. We at theDIHEDRAL normally only reach out regarding the environment. But watching the intentional destruction of an entire people and an entire culture at the hands of some thugs has moved me to say something and try to do something. I am not asking you to help, but if you are moved by any of this, maybe you’ll have the chance to say something or do something as well.
Mariam Shareefy is 100% correct. So even though things may not come out right, at the very least we should be talking. People need help, and in this case, for this particular climber, staying silent just wasn’t an option2.
Even if it came out all wrong, I’m staying away from the delete key, because sometimes it doesn’t matter how you say something, sometimes what matters is that something was said.
- Mariam Shareefy is as brave and brilliant a person as I have ever met. Her stories and life are captivating and moving examples of inner strength and courage. Here are a couple links in case you want to learn more.
- Unironically, posts like this will cause us to lose readers, and that is unfortunate because it seems like the piece is having the opposite effect of the goal. So, to all of you who have read this one and continue to read and support us, THANK YOU!