Initiatives of Change (IofC) has a long history of working with Afghan communities in Australia. The worsening security situation in Afghanistan, in the wake of the military withdrawal by the US and its allies—including Australia—is not only affecting the people of Afghanistan, but also our Afghan friends here in Australia. Many are asking what we can do.
Here are three things that people in the IofC Australia community are doing to help our friends. Join us, please!
- Write to your Federal MP and request that all Afghans on temporary visas in Australia be granted permanent visas. Many are on temporary visas, despite being genuine refugees who have been in Australia for years. They live with fear and uncertainty. The deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan has increased those fears as they do not have permanent residence in Australia.The Refugee Advice and Casework Service (RACS) has provided a template that you are welcome to use and adapt. Call on our government to do the right thing by the Afghan people in Australia. If you need to check who your Federal MP is and how to contact them, you can do so at the Parliament of Australia website
- Make an effort to speak with Afghan people whom you know, to understand their needs. We are doing the same. It’s often the small things that count, and that help people feel less alone or stressed. Remember that many people, despite being settled in Australia for years, still wrestle with the impacts of trauma—even inter-generational trauma. Right now, Initiatives of Change is working with the Afghan-Australian Initiative, a community group in Melbourne, to develop a new project, Tailoring Tales. The project is being developed in partnership with Hazara women from the Afghan community. The activities will build participants’ job skills, while providing space for story sharing and reducing social isolation.You can support it here.
- Help Afghan people to help themselves. For the last nine years, our Creators of Peace network has supported young people to travel from Afghanistan to Asia Plateau, the IofC conference centre in India, to be trained in leadership and peacebuilding skills. Two of these young women have gone on to organise Creators of Peace Circles in Afghanistan, sharing moral support and tools for change with their compatriots.You can learn more and take part in Creators of Peace here, and you can support the network to continue its valuable peacebuilding work here.
Sharing the ways of peace
Caroline Edwards is part of the Initiatives of Change community network in Western Australia. She first met Mahboba Rawi, an Afghan refugee and now Australian citizen, at a Creators of Peace conference in Sydney in 2009.
Mahboba was one of the speakers at that conference. ‘She ended up staying in the room with me and my Afghan friend Fawzia, who knew her,’ Caroline recalled. ‘We talked till the wee hours, sharing our stories.’
Mahboba had set up her own NGO, Mahboba’s Promise, to give aid to widows and orphans in Kabul. ‘I was so inspired, I offered to help her realise her vision of training 30 young people in Afghanistan, from all regions and ethnicities, in the ways of peace,’ said Caroline. For the last nine years, Caroline has also supported Mahboba with fundraising for the recovery effort.
This week, as the international press reported chaotic scenes in Kabul, Mahboba wrote to Caroline, ‘We need help more than ever now!' Hundreds of families have fled from their towns after being attacked by the Taliban and their homes and belongings burned. They need food, tents, clothing, medical supplies, toiletries and milk for the babies. Mahboba’s current appeal is online here.
‘It’s so important to listen to our Afghan friends right now,’ said Caroline.
- IofC Australia works closely with migrants, refugees, and diaspora networks in Australia. We partner on peacebuilding with others who share our vision for a just, peaceful and sustainable world. Contact our Executive Officer Margaret Hepworth.