“Their lives are at risk”: Bay Area nonprofit founder asks to help her employees in Afghanistan

3 mins read

A Bay Area nonprofit is calling for assistance to help 360 of its Afghan employees to be evacuated as the Taliban sweeps to Afghanistan’s capital city.

For a couple of decades, the organization “Roots of Peace” has been replacing landmines in Afghanistan with agricultural crops like fruit trees and vineyards.

“This is a crisis,” the organization’s founder and CEO Heidi Kuhn told ABC7 News on Sunday. “Their lives are at risk.”

She had already asked for help from President Joe Biden through a letter.

“I am writing with the greatest sense of urgency to implore you to act decisively and not abandon my 360 Afghan employees, who for the past 20 years have faithfully implemented our U.S. based nonprofit development programs in all 34 provinces of Afghanistan, at great personal risk,” part of her letter reads. “This letter is most critical in saving the lives of my loyal Afghan staff.”

On Sunday, a solidarity ceremony was held at his home to show support for the Afghan people as well as to pray for peace.

One of the employees, Hamid Ansary, hopes for his sister to leave the country safe.

“They’re really scared,” said Ansary.

Bibi Kawser Amine from Concord was contacted by her friends in Afghanistan who are saying their goodbyes.

“I said oh my God, don’t send me these messages you will be alive, they said you don’t feel us because you’re safe,” Amine said.

ABC7 News anchor Cheryl Jennings, along with Roots of Peace, has traveled to Afghanistan in 2015 and interviewed President Ghani.

“It’s a reborn love, a rebirth for the future of the country,” the president was quoted in 2015.

Kuhn said she is not blaming someone for the current situation in Afghanistan.

“I don’t think it’s the time to cast blame, we need to take this day and get this country back on its feet because its economics are at risk,” she said.

She maintains communication in Afghanistan. Her contacts shared with her the severe condition there, particularly the “catastrophic, unspeakable assaults” on women.

“According to the woman doctor I spoke to yesterday in Kabul, not only are women being raped, but they’re being branded with hot iron after being raped,” she said. “These are young girls — 14, 15, 16 — branded.”

She said her employees have a very huge risk of being attacked since they are under a nonprofit group under the U.S. government, which is also headed by a woman.

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