Amid the recent turmoil and rapidly deteriorating situation that has developed in the wake of the official U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, many here in the Bay have quickly rallied for tangible ways to help. The Bay Area, especially the east bay, has a unique connection to these events via its role as a home to one of the largest populations of Afghans in the U.S., where many have resettled after both the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and the events of 9/11.
"Afghan communities have made vital contributions to California over the past four decades," explains Robert Crews, a Stanford history professor whose areas of expertise include Afghanistan. "We have a responsibility to advocate for their security in Afghanistan now and to welcome those who are forced to flee their homes and seek refuge in the Bay Area."
Manny Yekutiel, a San Franciscan of Afghan descent, recently applied his talents as community space organizer (via his cafe Manny's) to call an emergency brainstorming session with many other Afghan Americans. "We owe the Afghan people every effort to ensure their safety and futures. The Bay Area has a place in this effort," he says.
Below is just a partial list of more organizations and efforts to aid our local Afghan community, and those abroad. The situation is rapidly evolving, so keep an eye out for emerging resources and information on the current situation.
Search the hashtag #saveourallies on social media for more organizations and news updates.
Rep. Swalwell represents California's 15th District in the East Bay, which has one of the largest Afghan populations in the U.S. He urges anyone who needs help with interpreter or refugee visa applications to contact his office via email or locally at 510-370–3322.
His Castro Valley office also set up a help desk outside this week, which has seen long lines of people worried about how to get their family members out of Afghanistan. His office can check the status of a special immigrant visa or help start the process of getting one.
Council member Aisha Wahab of Fremont is a daughter of Afghan refugees, and is the first Afghan American woman to be elected to public office in the U.S. Wahab is also a board member of the Afghan Coalition, which provides a myriad of services that include mental health and domestic violence help — issues that are especially exacerbated in refugee communities.
Help Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) families start their Bay Area lives by donating to this fund organized by the International Rescue Committee. The funds will go toward emergency temporary housing and rental support.
The organization has already welcomed dozens of refugees, and will up that number to 100 in the next few weeks.
Interested parties can volunteer for airport pickups, ESL language support, assisting in social services sign-ups, school registration, cash donations or purchasing basic household items for refugees as they settle.
The Marin County nonprofit aims to remove landmines and restore agricultural prosperity in countries affected by war. As Roots of Peace hires nearly 100% of its staff from within the countries it operates, there are 360 employees in Afghanistan who need evacuation help. Donations currently go toward helping other internally displaced persons (IDPs), as well, such as purchasing and distributing emergency supplies like tents and milk.
The Children of War's president of operations, based in Fremont, is raising funds with a team. Over the past several days, they have been able to use funds to distribute emergency relief packs, hot meals, diapers, sanitary napkins, portable stoves and transportation money to families in Afghanistan. The GoFundMe page is frequently updated with how each new infusion of funds is being used.
This San Francisco organization provides immigration services, community organizing, political education, other legal services and language access, among its many services. It can help with family-based immigration petitions and is trying to expedite the processes for the families who currently seek AROC's help.
Based in San Francisco, the 19-year-old organization envisions a more stable Afghanistan where public education is accessible and high quality. It's built two schools for girls and one school for boys in Afghanistan, and has trained hundreds of teachers.
This public Facebook group is a hub of local and international news as related to Afghanistan and local Afghan Americans. Use it as a clearinghouse of information, from rally dates to affordable housing links.
The organizer of the current GoFundMe, filmmaker and photographer Khyber Khan, is based in San Francisco. He is organizing on behalf of Emergency Relief Afghanistan. The most recent update from the organization's Instagram account states that it has successfully relocated some groups of IDPs to areas outside of Kabul, as of a few days ago.
This viral Google Doc contains ways to look up your congressional representatives, a phone script to use for when you call them, a petition link to President Joe Biden to lift refugee caps and other resources.
Organizing from California City, Samira Hamidi represents Josh Volunteer Group. She stated that the group may need to change donation strategies if the banks don't reopen soon, instead giving cash directly to IDPs.
A volunteer cadre of American military veterans, humanitarian aid groups and other activists are raising funds for emergency flight rescue missions out of Kabul. The people being rescued are considered high-value targets of the Taliban, such as human rights lawyers, journalists and women's and LGBTQ+ rights activists. Each mission costs $550,000, with the cost breaking down to $1,500 per person rescued. The campaign has currently raised more than $5 million, and will keep adding more missions as funding allows.
A global charity founded in Canada, HCI outlines how each donation amount helps people on the ground in Afghanistan. From food packs to shelter packs, the organization has a focus on immediate emergency needs as well as longer term needs, such as permanent housing down the road. HCI also has a more detailed fundraising platform on Launch Good, as well.
This Texas-based nonprofit provides humanitarian aid to underserved populations around the world. According to the official Twitter account, humanitarian aid in Afghanistan is not currently being intercepted or interrupted. The current focus is providing food and hygiene supplies to families and individuals.
For the past 20 years, this organization based out of both New York and Afghanistan has worked for Afghan women to exercise their rights to pursue their individual potential to self-determination. It is currently working on evacuating its Afghan centers, keeping its staff and clients safe and providing shelter and aid.
The UNHCR has long been renowned for its international humanitarian aid. Fundraising efforts for Afghanistan currently help to provide emergency shelter, aid, food, medicine and clean water.
The Canadian-founded global nonprofit is dedicated to helping LGBTQ+ people facing persecution around the world. Same-sex relations are criminalized in Afghanistan, so the organization's underground work in the country is important. You can donate cash, airline miles, stocks or even create a settlement team in Canada to welcome a newcomer.
Lonely Planet and The Points Guy are partnering to match cash donations of up to $20,000 to aid refugees internationally. While many commercial flights for Afghan recipients have been canceled due to the Taliban takeover, the nonprofit is monitoring the situation closely to see how it can still help. Outside of Afghanistan, the organization continues to help migrants with legal approval to escape war, persecution and disaster. You can donate airline miles, credit card points or cash.
This article was originally published Aug. 19 on TheSixFifty.com, a sister publication of Palo Alto Online, covering what to eat, see and do in Silicon Valley.