COVID-19 shocked everyone all over the world. Since 2020 it has been the hottest topic in social media, and among countries, cities, homes and families. I am sure history will never forget this pandemic. I call it the global nightmare of 2020.

I would like to say that in 2021, there is an even more severe nightmare for me as an Afghan. I call it the Taliban nightmare. Even as an Afghan woman, I am shocked. I was not ready to see the Taliban take over and wash away the hopes and dreams of girls. This nightmare took the lives of many Afghans and displaced  thousands of families. Refugees were evacuated around the world, especially to the United States.

In Afghanistan, we have a saying: “Humanity is still alive.” People around the world may wonder how to help the Afghan refugees. Here are some ways to offer kindness, service and humanity towards my people.

First of all, communities can help refugees by introducing them to the customs of their new culture, such as food and manners.  This is very important because our customs can be so different.  For example, in September 2021, two Afghan boys died from eating a soup containing poisonous mushrooms gathered by their families in Poland. Their family fled the violence in Afghanistan, but lost their sons who were unaware of the difference between mushrooms in Afghanistan and Poland.

People can also support refugees, especially girls, by providing a place to live. I appreciate the practice of inviting girls to live with host  families. It is shocking for girls  to leave their home, family and country and move to a new country. They need love, support and family care. I personally received great support from the Refugee Immigration Ministry and the ArCS Cluster.

“Immigration” is a simple word. For many, the act of immigration is not a choice. Afghans flee because they are not safe at home and they go to other countries to find peace and security. Communities can help them to learn how to stay safe in their new country as well. People can also help refugees with language barriers and how to navigate the city, shopping malls and stores.

Last but not least, communities can treat refugees as “arrivers” rather than “survivors.” There is a strong negative message implicit in the word “survivor.”  It subconsciously connects the person with their past trauma. An “arriver” has a positive implicit message that suggests welcoming.

Life brings challenges on different levels to all of  us. It is not easy to face challenges alone. We are all here for each other. Let’s view refugees and immigrants as arrivers who are most welcome to their new home, to begin their new lives.

Please help Shagufa raise funds to pursue her education and help end child marriage in developing countries. Donate here: ShagufaGoFundMe