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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at York U chapter.

When thinking of Afghanistan, most people stereotypically associate the country with terrorism, poverty, oppression, and having a lack of education. Although Afghanistan is so much more than what media and propaganda portray it as, it’s still haunted by these negative views, only some of which hold truth. 

Although Afghanistan does have terrorist, poverty, oppression and education problems, they are suffering from a war and humanitarian crisis that’s been ongoing for over 40 years. The situation in Afghanistan is too nuanced to even begin to explain, but the main point is that the world is failing and exploiting Afghan people – some of the strongest and innovative people in the world. Alexander The Great once said, “May God keep you away from the venom of the cobra, teeth of the tiger, and the revenge of the Afghans”. Clearly, Afghans are a force to be reckoned with, but unfortunately, they have been failed by several governments including their own, and the hastily retreated US Army. This allowed the Taliban to take over on August 15th and pushed an already struggling country into even deeper trouble. Hundreds of thousands of Afghans have evacuated Afghanistan and are now seeking refuge in other countries such as Canada. There are many ways you can help make this difficult transition a bit easier.

Due to the ongoing conflict occurring in Afghanistan, 20,000 Afghan refugees are set to come to Canada. Many of these refugees, most being children, have a long list of undiagnosed physical and mental health issues that need to be addressed in a non-colonial approach. The most effective way to help refugees is to direct them to reputable and free health care services, and to possibly be there for them as an interpreter so that nothing gets lost in the language barrier when they address their needs. Smile Canada is a reputable support organization that is both culturally and religiously sensitive, so feel free to take a look! 

Any Afghan refugee coming into Canada will have to quarantine for a minimum of 2 weeks in a hotel. However, many hotels are not equipped to accommodate the religious or cultural needs of these refugees such as incorporating halal food and prayer equipment. Adjusting to a new country’s habits and food styles is not only difficult, but can also cause digestive issues. Some charities are organizing Afghan staples such as rice, tea, and halal meat to be donated to hotels so that refugees are getting the nutrition they need. Many of these adults and children are severely malnourished after living in poverty for so long.

Afghanistan has diverse weather so they are no strangers to the cold. That being said, many refugees had to flee quickly and unfortunately had to leave many of their belongings behind including warm clothes, snow gears, and reliable transportation. As a result, many of these refugees won’t know who to contact for these necessities so it’s important to connect them with the correct resources. 

The government of Canada website has a list of resources and contact information for anyone who wishes to help these refugees. Many second-hand stores and even community-run donation booths also have a variety of clothing and winter-appropriate gear. You can also donate directly to the Toronto Region Afghan Resettlement Fund which only requires a monetary donation that will go towards the necessities such as food, water, shelter, and clothing.

As a Canadian born to Afghan immigrant parents, I have seen the effects of coming to Afghanistan with nothing, through my parents’ experiences. Many immigrants and especially refugees have had little to no support 20 years ago, but slowly things have changed since then. With social media and access to phones, Afghans are better able to make their voices not only heard but also listened to. Right now they need people from privileged countries to come together to amplify the voices of Afghans and to volunteer or donate to the resources mentioned in this article. Remember, even a little goes a long way.

Lexi is an Afghan-Canadian writer from Bradford, Ontario. She is in her second year at York University majoring in Cognitive Science. Lexi has lots of experience writing and presenting speeches for Children's Treatment Network, Sick Kids Hospital, and even held a rally at Queens Park. She is an advocate for Disabled Rights and has a disability herself. Although Lexi is actively involved in activism and advocacy, she also enjoys reading, drawing, painting, and sending her friends a variety of obscure and cute animal memes. Lexi lives by the quote "Be the change you wish to see in the world."