The drama unfolding in Afghanistan is a humanitarian crisis and it’s not going to get better. There is little doubt that the execution of the withdrawal after 20 years of war and corruption has been a disaster. Politicians talk about getting our “friends” out. But, even if that’s possible, our “friends” apparently don’t include the tens of thousands of people who aligned themselves with the US in unofficial ways. The families of my refugee friends in Europe have relatives in Kabul who have almost no chance of getting help from the US, even those who worked for US contractors or government agencies. Like so many others, they are in grave danger.
We all want to help and there are many ways to do that. But please don’t waste your money by donating to large nonprofit organizations. You will not be helping the Afghan people. You will be supporting large salaries and nice offices. And some of those organizations do more harm than good.. Smaller local organizations do better to help people directly, but such organizations are probably not able to help on the ground in Afghanistan right now.
If you want to help, there are people everywhere, including Afghans, who are suffering and who would benefit greatly from your support. Help them directly or find a small local organization that can. For example, you can take food or socks to a local homeless encampment. Give a few dollars to someone who is begging (and if you resist this because “they might buy drugs,” consider — as you sip your glass of wine — how you might need some relief from reality if you were living on the streets). Volunteer to tutor an immigrant child or teach English. Find individuals who, with a little help, pay it forward by helping their neighbors and communities.
If you want to feed a family in Mexico (where I am currently living), there are many here on the verge of disaster, partly because of the pandemic. Send me a note if you want me to use your funds to get them food.
If these options don’t work for you, small local nonprofits will use your funds very effectively and some will help you identify people with specific needs. If you are in the Bay Area, here are lists of mostly local, small organizations that work directly with immigrants and Americans in need.
Every disaster reminds the fortunate among us of our good luck, but we don’t have to wait for “trending” disasters. We can help every day, and we should.