Help Sayed Escape the Taliban and Study in the US

Hi, I’m Nat, and I’m raising essential funds to help my friend Sayed escape Afghanistan and attend graduate school in the United States. Sayed is currently hiding for his life as a target of the Taliban, and graduate school is his pathway to starting a new chapter in the safety of the US. He has been accepted to a program in Political Economy in New York City and, to secure a student visa, must demonstrate that he has the $50,000 needed to afford a year’s worth of tuition and living expenses on top of the financial aid he’s received. (For safety reasons, I am using fake names and have omitted the name of the school Sayed hopes to attend.)

***

I met Sayed, and his friend Safi, online in August of 2021 through a network of people discussing global political issues. I quickly became close friends with them, communicating regularly by text, phone, and Zoom. Before the Taliban takeover, Sayed and Safi worked for the Finance Ministry of the Afghan government. They had also spent years organizing for human rights and women’s advancement in Afghanistan. Once the Taliban took Kabul, the Afghan government collapsed, leaving Sayed and Safi unemployed. Worse, because of their past activism and government service, they became immediate targets of Taliban retaliation, receiving constant death threats by phone. Fearing for their lives, they went into hiding and, since then, for almost a year now, have rarely left their apartment, relying on less endangered friends to bring them food and basic supplies.

Since meeting Sayed and Safi, I have been trying to help them escape this horror. Until recently (and still, in Safi’s case), we were working to obtain entry to the US using the primary pathways available to Afghan refugees – humanitarian parole and Special Immigrant Visas. Unfortunately, these pathways have been overburdened by administrative challenges and high demand, and the chances of obtaining entry through them is extremely low.

Despite this, a student visa remains a reliable method of entry for those who have gained acceptance to higher education in the US. Sayed had long hoped to pursue a graduate degree in Political Science, which he had studied in college in Afghanistan, and was intending to come to the US on a scholarship program. But the program was discontinued for Afghans once the Taliban took over.

Miraculously, Sayed now has another chance: this year, he was accepted to graduate school to pursue his academic ambitions and was offered financial aid which would cover 55% of his tuition. There’s just one issue: in order to secure his visa, Sayed must prove to both the school and U.S. immigration authorities that he can cover the remaining 45% of his tuition and his living expenses for a year. This totals $50,000.

This is where you come in. Your assistance would have immediate, direct, and guaranteed impact. The calculus is simple:

  • If we can raise $50,000 in the next two-to-three weeks, Sayed can obtain his visa, begin his studies in September, and safely escape his life in hiding from the threat of imprisonment and murder by the Taliban. Not only can you help secure Sayed’s safety, but you can help put him back on the path to building a better political future for his people, a path which was brutally cut short by the Taliban takeover and the interruption of Sayed’s academic and political career.
  • If we can’t raise $50,000 in the next two-to-three weeks, Sayed will continue his life in hiding, without income, under constant threat of a murderous theocracy.

My ask to you is three-fold:
(1) Contribute. Please give as generously as you can possibly manage. The money here isn’t going somewhere abstract. There is ZERO overhead. You contribute to this, your money will go directly toward saving a life.
(2) Share. Tell others, including and especially people and organizations with big pockets who are working to help Afghans.
(3) Connect. Please text me at [phone redacted] if you know of any organizations or major private donors I should reach out to directly.

When I think about what we can do here, it’s not just about Sayed. It’s about all the people he could help back home with the education, credentials, and resources that a US graduate school may offer. And, for me personally, it’s also about his potential future children, and their children. I think about this because of who I am: the grandchild of survivors who escaped death in Europe because people like you helped them seek refuge in the United States and start the family that brought me here, to this moment.

I am deeply grateful for your generosity.

Love,
Nat
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Organizer

Nat R. 
Organizer
Brooklyn, NY

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