Danger from new Afghan government felt even at local fundraiser

The danger for Afghans trapped in their country is being felt here, too. Now there’s an effort to raise money to help those who are coming here.

The need is so great for Afghans seeking refuge in the Puget Sound region that a fundraiser has been going on most of the day at Cal Anderson Park.

Even there, some fear for their family’s safety even now. So much so that one Afghan asked not to be photographed. Just appearing on television for a moment, she says, could put her family in harm’s way.

Just doing this, speaking in public about the need for those fleeing her homeland, is a risky act for Shogofa.

“Today, we are here to support refugees that they’re coming here,” Shogofa told those at Cal Anderson park.

She still has family members in Afghanistan, now in hiding from a regime she knows all too well.

“What I experienced, I don’t want my nieces to have to experience,” said Shogofa. “Because when the Taliban came (the) first time, I couldn’t go to school for five years.”

Ten years ago, she came to America, earned a master’s degree in public health at the University of Washington. She now works to build schools for girls in Afghanistan. Still, she asked us not to use her last name for fear that what she says here could imperil her family there.

“That’s my day and night,” she said, “trying to reach out to everyone. I need help to get them out.”

Some of that help is likely here. The Afghanistan Aid Benefit, organized by Capitol Hill Pride, raises money for those who are already arriving. World Relief Seattle says that since June, it has worked with nearly 140 Afghan refugees, with still more coming, often with just a few hours’ notice.

“And then that means our caseworkers are there at Sea-Tac Airport, welcoming people when they arrive, said Liz Nelson, World Relief Seattle’s outreach manager, “finding temporary housing either with family or friends that they have in the area or vetted host homes, Airbnb or hotels.”

This is personal for those who have served in the military. The U.S. pullout from Afghanistan, is proof, say these Veterans for Peace, of the devastation of war — even when the troops leave.

“Yeah, it was not handled well,” said Albert Penta, a retired military personnel. “It all collapsed so quickly that it left everything shorthanded.”

And tens of thousands were left desperate to get out.

If you couldn’t make it to Cal Anderson Park Saturday, there are ways you can help, by volunteering or donating.

Give whatever you can, fundraisers say, to help Afghans settle here.