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Cooking For Kabul: How One Afghan Woman Is Sending Her Support Home

She fled Afghanistan. Now, one year after the Taliban takeover, she’s supporting Afghans who couldn’t leave.


 

It was her son Amir’s birthday. Khadija cooked a meal at her home in Virginia and took her family to a nearby park to celebrate. They ate kabuli pulao together, Amir’s favorite dish of rice and meat flecked with caramelized carrots and raisins, and marked him turning 7.

Thousands of miles away in Afghanistan, Kabul fell under Taliban rule.

By the time Khadija and her family returned home that evening, relatives were calling from Afghanistan. The president was gone. The Taliban controlled the country. And their future? No one was certain, but they feared the worst.

“At that time, I hoped I could do something for my people,” Khadija said.

“I should make a change even if it’s very small… as small as a drop.”

Khadija was born in Afghanistan but left the country with her parents when she was just a year old. She grew up in Iran, and after finishing high school and entering the workforce, she and her then-husband resettled in Afghanistan for the next decade.

But they felt unsafe in the country, and with five small children, they feared the many mountains and miles they would have to travel to leave.

They applied for the Diversity Visa Program, and in 2016, they came to the United States with their children. They wasted no time creating a better future in the US: Khadija found a job and began selling Afghan dishes at the local farmers market three times a week.

The business helped support her family, even after she and her husband divorced. And it connected Khadija with her neighbors, who she says offered her “a lot of patience, a lot of respect, a lot of love” as she made the community her new home over six years. But Afghanistan was never far from her mind.

Afghanistan in crisis

“My country is going through a horrifying time right now,” Khadija wrote on Instagram after she heard the news of the Taliban’s takeover. “So many people including my family and friends are in danger.”

With Afghans pushed out of work and banks largely closed, Khadija’s relatives and so many others desperately needed financial help. She thought of her aunt and cousins who couldn’t leave Afghanistan. She knew the crisis unfolding there wouldn’t end soon, and she had to do something.

From Khadija’s Kitchen

Days after the Taliban returned to power, Khadija started donating proceeds from the food she sold at the farmers market to help people stuck and struggling through such a tumultuous time in Afghanistan. Falafel. Baklava. Lentil soup. Her food fueled her support.

But Khadija wanted to send the funds to fellow Afghans beyond her family, too.

“I should find some organization or some people,” she thought. “At least I can trust them, and they are able to deliver financial help to support my people in Afghanistan.”

GlobalGiving was that organization. Over the next few weeks, Khadija raised more than $1,000 for GlobalGiving’s Afghanistan Emergency Fund. The fund provided urgent support to people and families across Afghanistan through local organizations. And now, one year later, donations like Khadija’s continue to deliver access to nutritious meals, psychosocial support, and long-term assistance for Afghans who are internally displaced and still coping with the challenges in their country.

Join Khadija in helping Afghans in need—donate now through the Safer World Matching Campaign and your gift will be matched at 50%.*

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Approximately 20 million Afghans—nearly half the population—are suffering emergency levels of food insecurity.

Girls can’t attend school, women are out of work, and families are without health care.

As a woman and now a citizen in the US, Khadija sees that she has the freedom to work, raise her children, and even buy a home when so many others around the world do not.

“My experience in Iran and in Afghanistan was that we could never say to ourselves, ‘OK, I’m going to buy the house,'” Khadjia said.

Everything in life was too risky.

“Nobody could go find a good job. Nobody could do anything,” she said. “For example, if you buy the house, you don’t know what’s going [to happen] after two years.”

The uncertainty hasn’t subsided.

Afghans just want peace, Khadija says. They want the freedom to have a job, go to school, and lead a normal life.

For now, they’re still looking for it. And from her kitchen in Virginia, Khadija will keep cooking, giving, and trying to help them find it.

Join Khadija in helping Afghans in need—donate now through the Safer World Matching Campaign and your gift will be matched at 50%.*

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Featured Photo: Filling ashak by Khadija's Kitchen

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