Rescuing an Afghan Artist and Family

Abdul Habibi, an internationally recognized fine art painter and art instructor, is under physical threat from the Taliban. Since last September, Abdul and his family have been hiding in a small, sparse apartment awaiting an opportunity to leave Afghanistan.

For those unaware, the Taliban rigidly prohibits ‘the art of all living things’. Returning to control, the Taliban began reinforcing their prohibition with threats, beatings, jailing and the killing of artists, musicians, actors, comedians and others. **

Many artists fled when it became known the Taliban was returning to power. Abdul remained to close his art gallery and studio while he applied for visas to other countries.

In early September 2021, Abdul was threatened by two Taliban members. It was not the first. Several days later, Abdul was alerted the Taliban was in his neighborhood seeking his whereabouts. 

Abdul came under threat not only for being an artist, but because he openly supported the former Afghan government and promoted women’s education. He personally taught hundreds of women painting over the previous 20 years. 

With no preparation time, Abdul, his wife and three young children abandoned their home with only what they could carry and went into hiding. 

Abdul reached out to two Americans who had purchased paintings from him in 2009.  Understanding his plight, one of those Americans, Tim Ham, began wiring Abdul money to support his family. Tim engaged others to help with that support. Then began a difficult process of getting the family U.S. visas.

One U.S. visa would allow Abdul to teach art in the U.S. for up to three years, during which time he and his family could apply for asylum. The main proviso of the visa was Abdul needed certified employment before the visa application could be filed. 

After a broad search of potential employers, Elements of Education Partners, the non-profit founder of the Tacoma (Washington) School of the Arts, stepped up. They offered Abdul an Adjunct Art Instructor position. Unfortunately, Abdul’s $45,000 first year fellowship amount would have to be raised privately because the 2022-2023 school district budget was already set. 

We hope you can help. A GoFundMe donation will fill the vital need for the family’s ongoing living expenses and transportation out of Afghanistan once the visa is approved.

We have raised nearly $25,000 towards Abdul’s fellowship amount. We desperately need the remaining $20,000 by August 1st. 

You can donate directly to Elements of Education at  ‘www.elementsofed.org.’  On the home page, click the ‘Donate Now’ link. There you will be able to “Select a Campaign.” Abdul Habibi’s name is near the bottom of the list. Any donation made through Elements is tax deductible.

Thank you for your help. 

Updated 06/14/2022
 
**As an example of what the art community faces in Afghanistan from the Taliban, here's a recent news article. https://www.cnn.com/2021/08/30/asia/fawad-andarabi-afghan-folk-singer-killed-intl/index.html

 
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Organizer

Carl Highland 
Organizer
Ellensburg, WA