Support Evacuation and Resettlement of Afghan Cyclists

Support Evacuation and Resettlement of Afghan Cyclists

From Shannon Galpin

For the past decade, Afghan women cyclists has become a 'right to ride' movement. These women have challenged gender barriers, inspired the world, and risked their lives to ride a bike. Now they need your help!

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Update #4

2 days ago

HI Everyone. Your patience and your continued support and amplification of Afghan voices is seen even though I still have zero time to response individually. I am so grateful for every single donation because it has been vital to so many lives. While there are still so many in Afghanistan that are trying to get out, your donations have been integral to next steps. Your donations thus far have: paid for safe houses, paid for guesthouses, paid for food stipends, and bought passports ($500 each) for Afghan still left behind. Your donations have paid for private security and safe transport for many that have gotten out. There are so many lives your donations have supported or simply made a little bit easier.

To date, there is a huge convoy of cyclists yet to get out. The law firm of Hogan Lovells has been working in multiple countries across multiple time zones since day one. Their teams have helped coordinate endless lists, apply for visas, passports, transit visas, and navigate immigration in multiple countries as we country to fight this blockade. I cannot overstate their role. As I work to get families of original team members safely out and members of the Bamiyan cycling team who are not recognized by the Afghan Cycling Federation or UCI, we have built a team of people that care. Canadian Sylvan Adams and Yotem Polizer with Israaid were integral to the evacuation of the 35 Afghans we got out two weeks ago. And the team of incredible humans at iProbono have assisted with their South Asian team with direct to athletes we have in Pakistan and elsewhere that need support. It's been humbling, and inspiring, but the work is barely started. This evacuation has been a blockade in every sense of the word, neighboring countries refusing to open their borders, Western countries like the US and UK refusing to take more refugees despite initial claims. Countries like Canada stalling on visa processing because of elections. Countries saying that they will process visas once Afghans can get to an embassy in a third country without understanding that Afghans can't get out without a visa. It's maddening. But w aren't giving up. There is still work to do and options to follow up. Every day it's like a scene from The Imitation Game, which told the story of breaking the Enigma machine during WWII. Every day the Germans reset the 'key' to the encryption machine. So every day British codebreakers worked to solve the key and decrypt messages, but at midnight the day's work was useless and the next day they started over. THAT"S what this evacuation is like. Every day we get a plan put together, and every day something new complicates the plan. So we immediately start again. You know what would help? Bordering countries opening their borders as a humanitarian corridor so we could move people safely out and into third countries. Western countries CAN take more refugees, they have barely started.

I'm angry, but I am not giving up. Thank you for every single donation that is helping keep Afghans safe, alive, fed, and get them evacuated. I have agreed to take on a contract with iProbono so that I can continue to do this work beyond the evacuation. I have been working 24/7 for six weeks and in parallel with the evacuation have made the next steps to support Afghan cyclists in the years ahead. Continuing the work I did in Afghanistan outside of Afghanistan with the young women we and others are able to get safe.

No one person, or one organization, or even one group of organizations can claim responsibility for evacuations. I have assisted on multiple evacuations at differing levels throughout the past six weeks and have seen firsthand how many individuals and organizations are directly and indirectly involved to navigate the maze of each evacuation, many are unaware of others involvement. So its important to me that we highlight the power and the humanity of a global digitally connected network that is making this happen despite the continued blockade. You are part of it now. Tashakur!

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The women that founded and grew the 'right to ride' cycling movement in Afghanistan are among the most prominent athletes in Afghanistan over the past decade. They were nominated as National Geographic Adventurers of the Year. They were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. They have been celebrated and feted by the international community but they have not been supported. Now they are in hiding, burning their clothing, and scared of reprisals by the Taliban. They are literally burning their future as are many women across Afghanistan who are burning diplomas and other 'incriminating' items. Here's how we support the women we have seen in documentaries, in newspapers and magazines, and in museums. We get them out. These women are on evacuation lists but we need to fund their evacuation and their repatriation costs, mental health couseling, and of course, once they have a community, get them BIKES. They never wanted this. We have a moral obligation to support them and help them rebuild their lives. 

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Shannon Galpin posted a new update:
2 days ago

Update #4

HI Everyone. Your patience and your continued support and amplification of Afghan voices is seen even though I still have zero time to response individually. I am so grateful for every single donation because it has been vital to so many lives. While there are still so many in Afghanistan that are trying to get out, your donations have been integral to next steps. Your donations thus far have: paid for safe houses, paid for guesthouses, paid for food stipends, and bought passports ($500 each) for Afghan still left behind. Your donations have paid for private security and safe transport for many that have gotten out. There are so many lives your donations have supported or simply made a little bit easier.

To date, there is a huge convoy of cyclists yet to get out. The law firm of Hogan Lovells has been working in multiple countries across multiple time zones since day one. Their teams have helped coordinate endless lists, apply for visas, passports, transit visas, and navigate immigration in multiple countries as we country to fight this blockade. I cannot overstate their role. As I work to get families of original team members safely out and members of the Bamiyan cycling team who are not recognized by the Afghan Cycling Federation or UCI, we have built a team of people that care. Canadian Sylvan Adams and Yotem Polizer with Israaid were integral to the evacuation of the 35 Afghans we got out two weeks ago. And the team of incredible humans at iProbono have assisted with their South Asian team with direct to athletes we have in Pakistan and elsewhere that need support. It's been humbling, and inspiring, but the work is barely started. This evacuation has been a blockade in every sense of the word, neighboring countries refusing to open their borders, Western countries like the US and UK refusing to take more refugees despite initial claims. Countries like Canada stalling on visa processing because of elections. Countries saying that they will process visas once Afghans can get to an embassy in a third country without understanding that Afghans can't get out without a visa. It's maddening. But w aren't giving up. There is still work to do and options to follow up. Every day it's like a scene from The Imitation Game, which told the story of breaking the Enigma machine during WWII. Every day the Germans reset the 'key' to the encryption machine. So every day British codebreakers worked to solve the key and decrypt messages, but at midnight the day's work was useless and the next day they started over. THAT"S what this evacuation is like. Every day we get a plan put together, and every day something new complicates the plan. So we immediately start again. You know what would help? Bordering countries opening their borders as a humanitarian corridor so we could move people safely out and into third countries. Western countries CAN take more refugees, they have barely started.

I'm angry, but I am not giving up. Thank you for every single donation that is helping keep Afghans safe, alive, fed, and get them evacuated. I have agreed to take on a contract with iProbono so that I can continue to do this work beyond the evacuation. I have been working 24/7 for six weeks and in parallel with the evacuation have made the next steps to support Afghan cyclists in the years ahead. Continuing the work I did in Afghanistan outside of Afghanistan with the young women we and others are able to get safe.

No one person, or one organization, or even one group of organizations can claim responsibility for evacuations. I have assisted on multiple evacuations at differing levels throughout the past six weeks and have seen firsthand how many individuals and organizations are directly and indirectly involved to navigate the maze of each evacuation, many are unaware of others involvement. So its important to me that we highlight the power and the humanity of a global digitally connected network that is making this happen despite the continued blockade. You are part of it now. Tashakur!

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Shannon Galpin posted a new update:
16 days ago

Update #3

Thanks to The Lily, you can hear two of Afghanistan's cyclists speak about the current situation. Frozan, one of the original national team members has been living in France, but her family was part of the group of 35 we just evacuated. Sediqa was the captain of the Bamiyan cycling team. She is going to university in India, but she was integral to communication with her team, most of whom we got out as well. I am in near daily contact with both women about the situation and next steps. You can read their interview in The Lily below.

https://www.thelily.com/gdpr-consent/?destination=%2fthese-afghan-athletes-are-devastated-by-the-talibans-ban-on-womens-sports-what-we-built-in-20-years-is-gone-in-five-seconds%2f%3f

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Shannon Galpin posted a new update:
16 days ago

Update #2

Friday, September 10 - Day 26 of the evacuation

We increased the fundraiser goal today. We have been able to support the evacuation in many ways with private security, safe houses, and transportation. We have had incredible support with individuals and organizations, especially Hogan Lovells law firm and iProbono, a human rights organization. Last week we got a group of 35 across the border and they are now safely in UAE while they process visas that have been granted by Canada.

We have over 100 more athletes on our current group to evacuate. We cannot share more for obvious reasons. Without your donations, this would be so much more difficult and because of your support we are also able to make sure that cyclists that are in difficult situations when they escaped have financial support to get safe. The banks were closed before and during the evacuation so its important that we make sure we can support every stage of the process that is necessary as best we can.

The President of UCI is confirmed to provide Swiss visas to 24 of our athletes, and I hope that we can work with them to get the rest coordinated as Afghan cyclists are scattered across the globe right now. We have confirmation that cyclists are in France, Italy, US, Uganda, Germany, Pakistan, along with those in UAE that will soon arrive in Canada.

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Shannon Galpin posted a new update:
about 1 month ago

Update #1

Thank you everyone for your incredible generosity, and your patience while we fundraised with radio silence. The priority has been logistics for the past 13 days. The Washington Post has called this a Digital Dunkirk and it is. There is a rebellion connected around the world that has made this evacuation happen remotely. But let's be very clear. This has not been an evacuation for Afghans. It has been a blockade and we have fought tooth and nail for every Afghan to get on a plane. Most of the time, Afghans were not allowed to get through the airport gate to board their plane. Neither were many Americans. It has been a BATTLE to support our Afghan friends and colleagues because they have been humiliated throughout the entire process. It didn't have to be like this. We have had 12 days to get Afghans out, and often these planes were half empty. The same planes we fought to get our cyclists onto the manifests for, left nearly empty because Afghans weren't allowed to enter the airport. I am livid but I don't have time yet because we still have a lot to do. Radio silence is all I can give you as I haven't slept more than a couple hours in the past 12 days. as time zones and chaos don't allow for a break for a minute. But also - because now is not the time to share. Now is the time to protect Afghans lives that aren't on planes. Please know that I see every donation message come through but I cannot reply. I hope to update you more regularly and to share some of the successes. We are half way to our goal. And we are also fundraising off line to set up a fund that will allow the support beyond any evacuation. I will share the purpose of these funds when it is safe to share more details in the coming days. In the meantime we still have a lot of work to do. Today's devastating attacks in Kabul and elsewhere just illustrate how quickly we need to open the blockade. Thanks from the bottom of my broken heart, and stay tuned.

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