In 2016 and 2018 I ran in the Marathon of Afghanistan. I went there with film maker Kate McKenzie to support the Afghan women and girls who run for freedom and equality. I had read about the verbal and physical abuse that Afghan women and girls had to endure just for going for a run. I knew that I wanted to let them know that people cared and wanted to help them in their quest for gender equality.
Spending time with these women and girls showed me the true meaning of resilience and courage. In the face of threats and attacks, primarily by men, they would not stop. Some trained in secret while others wore knuckle dusters and carried pepper spray to protect themselves. These women and girls became my friends.
Over the last several weeks the world has turned upside down. The Taliban has swept across the country and now control Afghanistan. My Afghan friends have contacted me with their stories of desperation and despair.
Here is an email I received on August 17th: Hi Martin and Sue, Thanks for reaching out, we are ok and stay home in Kabul now. These three days were the most horrific days of my life. I was on my duty at the office when they entered the city and we ran a long distance to our houses. When the gunshots started I laid down on the street. The tanks were coming everywhere. I sent all my docs and information to ……………. to see if there is any chance to get out of the country, we are safe now and will be updating you, Love you both so much and will never forget you!
Many of us are doing what we can to help bring these people to Canada and other countries around the world but the situation feels overwhelming.
I have been asked by many people “What can I do?” I encourage you to make a donation to Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan: https://cw4wafghan.ca/about-us. They have been in the country for 25 years, delivering opportunities for women and girls to get an education and now they are working with families that are internally displaced in Kabul to make sure they get the very basic human necessities.
The fight for Afghan women and girls is not over … it’s only just began. In life you don’t have to do a lot but you have to do something. Please make your voice heard and let these women and girls know that you care. Thank you.
© 2021 Martin Parnell