Support Evacuation and Resettlement of Afghan Cyclists

Support Evacuation and Resettlement of Afghan Cyclists

From Shannon Galpin

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

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Update #21

3 months ago

Great news!

On Friday our huge group in Pakistan began their final biometric appointments at the Italian visas in Islamabad. All weekend they've been going in groups for appointments and if all goes well we'll have everyone finished by Tuesday. The first group is over 64 cyclists and family members and there will be a second group of family members (mostly the older brothers and fathers of the groups) that will be joining the families separately. It is a huge relief to know this is finally happening as I don't know how to keep supporting everyone in Pakistan.

Additionally we have a lovely reunification of two cyclists in Calgary this weekend. Maryam was part of the women's cycling team in Bamyan and her husband Sadiq was on the men's team. She evacuated in August with part of her team and was in UAE till last month. Her team is in Calgary but she was flown separately by Canada to the wrong city. She was isolated on her own, separated from her team and her husband. Meanwhile I evacuated her husband to Pakistan and supported him there while he processed a visa for Canada and was accepted. We got him to biometric appointments on the other side of the country and then finally his flight last week. But still they were in different locations. This weekend they finally reunited in Calgary. They sent me a video of their first hug but I'm attaching a simple photo from the car that they sent me to share. Thank you for everyone that donated, you helped evacuate Sajad and keep him housed in Pakistan, you also covered his travel to embassy appointments across the country. This wouldn't have happened with your support.

I still have to find the funding to cover June safe houses and guesthouses for everyone in Pakistan that we are sending to Italy. Luckily we know that we won't have to find funds for July but somehow I have been able to keep everyone safe for 10 months. Over 120 people have been evacuated thanks to the fundraising efforts and another 23 are in a safehouse in Afghanistan.

If you can help share the link or donate one more time we can finally finish this and get our 72 Afghans to Italy. Once there, they will be completely covered thanks to the hard work of Francesca Monzone who has coordinated special arrangements where our group will move directly into apartments in Abruzzo. This is all paid for, we just need to raise a final $55,000 to cover the final push.

It's not over. I haven't given up. 10 months later and I have worked every single day since August 15th on this. And we are getting it done. But the only funding is coming from crowdfunding. Individuals saving individuals. Thank you. You did this.

Shannon

More Info

UPDATE: To date, we have evacuated over 70 Afghans. We have directly assisted on hundreds more. We are supporting the safety of Afghans cyclists and family members in safehouses, guesthouses and with food stipends.We have also added a small group of para athletes to our evacuation list. Cost breakdown below.

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This fundraiser goes directly to support the evacuation costs of cyclists, sports advocates, and family members of at-risk athletes and to support those that are still waiting for evacuation and need safe housing and food. This was originally created for the long term programming needs like next-stage resettlement costs, mental health and trauma support, and rebuilding and supporting the identity of these cyclists with bikes and bike community....but the evacuation has been a blockade and we are still trying to evacuate.  

The women and the male allies 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. Young women started their own bike clubs and two young women started the first bike races for women in the entire country. These women and many family members are now safely out because of the support of this fundraiser in the first two months of the evacuation. 

Here's how we support the athletes and family members that 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. 

As we doubled the goal for our fundraiser and extended the timeline 7 weeks into the evacuation/blockade we are also including the men's cycling team in Bamiyan who are all Hazara and allies of the women cyclists, but were left behind by Afghan Cycling Federation in the recent evacuation. We are also supporting the evacuation of several female activists that are in hiding and at-risk. When we can, we are trying to get family members included to evacuations, but all too often its the athletes or activists on their own because they have been granted visas. We don't want to send people out of Afghanistan to refugee camps if at all possible. We are also working to support the evacuation of 13 para athletes with our colleagues at Equality League along with my partners and colleagues at iProbono and Hogan Lovells. 

Costs:

Almost 4 months into the evacuation we have settled into several hard truths. The work of governments is being done by individuals and largely funded by crowdfunding campaigns. 

Evacuation: $3,000 per person on average. This involves many layers that I will not disclose publicly right now. 

Guesthouses: $500 per person per month on average both in Afghanistan and outside in third countries

Safehouses: $15,000 for 6 month safehouse inside Afghanistan

Food stipends: $500 directly to the families on our list waiting for evacuation

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Shannon Galpin posted a new update:
3 months ago

Update #22

Great news!

On Friday our huge group in Pakistan began their final biometric appointments at the Italian visas in Islamabad. All weekend they've been going in groups for appointments and if all goes well we'll have everyone finished by Tuesday. The first group is over 64 cyclists and family members and there will be a second group of family members (mostly the older brothers and fathers of the groups) that will be joining the families separately. It is a huge relief to know this is finally happening as I don't know how to keep supporting everyone in Pakistan.

Additionally we have a lovely reunification of two cyclists in Calgary this weekend. Maryam was part of the women's cycling team in Bamyan and her husband Sadiq was on the men's team. She evacuated in August with part of her team and was in UAE till last month. Her team is in Calgary but she was flown separately by Canada to the wrong city. She was isolated on her own, separated from her team and her husband. Meanwhile I evacuated her husband to Pakistan and supported him there while he processed a visa for Canada and was accepted. We got him to biometric appointments on the other side of the country and then finally his flight last week. But still they were in different locations. This weekend they finally reunited in Calgary. They sent me a video of their first hug but I'm attaching a simple photo from the car that they sent me to share. Thank you for everyone that donated, you helped evacuate Sajad and keep him housed in Pakistan, you also covered his travel to embassy appointments across the country. This wouldn't have happened with your support.

I still have to find the funding to cover June safe houses and guesthouses for everyone in Pakistan that we are sending to Italy. Luckily we know that we won't have to find funds for July but somehow I have been able to keep everyone safe for 10 months. Over 120 people have been evacuated thanks to the fundraising efforts and another 23 are in a safehouse in Afghanistan.

If you can help share the link or donate one more time we can finally finish this and get our 72 Afghans to Italy. Once there, they will be completely covered thanks to the hard work of Francesca Monzone who has coordinated special arrangements where our group will move directly into apartments in Abruzzo. This is all paid for, we just need to raise a final $55,000 to cover the final push.

It's not over. I haven't given up. 10 months later and I have worked every single day since August 15th on this. And we are getting it done. But the only funding is coming from crowdfunding. Individuals saving individuals. Thank you. You did this.

Shannon

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Shannon Galpin posted a new update:
5 months ago

Update #21

This amazing photo from a local newspaper this week in Germany is possible because of so many of you here. Zakia (in the middle) the co-you set of the cycling teams in Bamiyan fled to Germany. Her sister and brother were next generation cyclists and both members of the Afghan national Cycling team. Because of the support of the fundraiser I started in August and the incredible work of Hogan Lovells in three countries we evacuated her family including her mother and father who were prominent in the early stages of the cycling program in Bamyan. They were warmly received in Germany and joined Zakia in December. @allertsteffen has offered help in several ways throughout the evacuation and last week took them to Albstadt World Cup! Zakia just posted this today from the newspaper!

Some of teammates are still in Pakistan but members of Oqab team that formed after her have arrived in Calgary. We have progress even if it slow. Thank you everyone that has supported. If you see the news coming out of Afghanistan it is not hyperbole to say, you saved lives. I could not have evacuated this family without funding, it took nearly $20,000 to get them out last November. That came from our crowdfunding. Thank you.

It isn’t over. If you feel you can still help, the new campaign set up with my partner iProbono. We need to get the rest safe. We are almost there. Thank you!!

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Shannon Galpin posted a new update:
5 months ago

Update #20

Back in 2013, I funded a girls bike club to buy their own bikes. The club leader went to the bike market herself to pick out the bikes and yes, they brought her two pink bikes first. She had our trusted bike mechanic join her to look over the bikes and make sure they were all in good shape. I had donated the money to buy the bikes so that they could stop borrowing bikes from brothers, cousins, male friends and just ride whenever they wanted. She chose several, including the two bike ones, and they took over the streets with huge smiles and zero fucks. Literally, the footage of them riding is unreal. They do not ride single file, meekly on the side of the road. No, they do not. They ride the busy Kabul streets several girls astride, proudly riding their bikes with their bright coloured headscarves billowing in the wind.

They were part of the culture shift along with the national cycling team and the girls in Bamyan. No less important because they were not in training clothes. I would argue, they were MORE important because they were riding bikes as a mode of transportation in their regular clothing. Not as sport, but as a social activity. You can see amazing video of them riding in the docu Afghan Cycles trailer below. They were fearless.

That’s banned now. And the cycling world needs to be as incensed as I am. Bikes are banned for women. Cycling and all sports are. As of this week: Girls and women are now required to fully cover their faces with a burqa. There is no question that women are now erased from public spaces and banned from society.

I know that you feel helpless I know that you are overwhelmed by the enormity of a country that collapsed. But evacuations are done, many resettlements are done, the rest coming soon, long term programs are developed, you just need to want to be involved. Is it perfect? No, perfection would be Afghan women living freely in their own country with their own families riding the bikes going to school living their lives going to work. We cant change that on out own right now. We can safeguard female cyclists I’ve evacuated, and get them back on bikes. We can help them get mental health resources to deal with the 8 1/2 months of trauma they’ve endured, and we can bring them back together as teammates to ride, laugh, share stories, and heal. YOU can help this happen. How?

We over twenty cyclists that we have evacuated that are resettled. 18 members of the Oqab cycling team from Bamyan are now in Canada and they are ready to reform their team and ride. Najila has been designated the team leader. They need bikes. So will the girls that make up the rest of their team that are currently in Pakistan and will be arriving in Italy. Their team is split up but they engage to help each other across the miles. That is the goal of the next step of our support.

Along with the Bamiyan group are the original members of the national team and the original members of the Bamyan teams that seeded the Oqab team. I don't know if they want to ride for sport, but I do know they want to ride bikes again. They will be in Italy.

Zahra is in Stockholm and she wants a bike to ride. Zakia, Reihanna, Mahdi, and Hania all have received bikes and are already riding training, and attending races in Germany thanks to an incredible support network around them there.

To be able to say - we need to fundraise for bikes - and to start programming the next step is the happiest thing I have written in a long time. We have the girls safe in Pakistan moving to Italy this month thanks to the hard work of Francesca Monzone. Now we can focus on raising the funds to support them as cyclists again. This gets back to the work I did for years in Afghanistan and what I do best. There is still work on evacuations and safeguarding, but for the young women we can look ahead to their future.

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Shannon Galpin posted a new update:
6 months ago

Update #19

One of our cycling family's reunification story on video!

One of the most powerful stories that your donations have supported is one of the most personal to me. Zakia Mohammadi is the co-founder of the cycling movement in Bamyan. She is a cyclist, a skier, a paraglider, and so much more. She escaped to Germany several years ago and is living outside of Munich. I met her in 2013 and when she and her friend Zahra Hosseini who is the first woman post-Taliban era to cycle began teaching girls in Bamyan to ride bikes and formed the first team outside of the national cycling team in Kabul I supported them with bikes donated by Liv Cycling, and trained with them several times. They created the first public advocacy rides in Afghanistan for women, and they created the first races for women in Afghanistan. Soon Bamyan is where the Afghan Cycling Federation began all of its major racing but it started with Zakia and Zahra.

Zakia's younger brother and sister soon became prominent members of the national cycling team and her youngest sister began riding too. Her mother and father were both involved in the development of sports in Bamyan.

I wanted to not just evacuate her siblings as cyclists, but evacuate her entire family who were at risk due to the high profile nature of Zakia who was in the Afghan Cycles documentary and in the book Revolutions about the history of women's cycling by Hannah Ross. I wanted to keep the family together and reunite them in Germany if possible. Hogan Lovells who was working with me since August reached out to their German team to see what could be done. They worked every day to make this happen and their in-house team created a short film for their pro-bono team to illustrate how lawyers can use their skills in crisis.

I normally would not take part in films in the middle of the crisis, but Hogan Lovells wanted to use this reunification story (and the Mohammadi family wanted to share their story as a way to keep attention on the Afghan evacuation and the need to open borders and take refugees) and I appreciate that sometimes we need to take a moment to understand how people worked behind the scenes. I filmed this on the one day I went to London to meet the Hogan Lovells pro bono team - every other day of the evacuation since August I'm in a beanie hat and hoodie, so I guess there is magic in filmmaking!

please watch and share - all of you helped make this happen by funding this evacuation and supporting them in Pakistan while we waiting for visas. Zakia is a dear friend. Zahra, her co-founder in the Bamyan cycling movement is safely in Sweden with her husband. There are some very happy stories in this chaos, and they should be celebrated because they are too few and far between. I wish these were how all the stories looked, they don't, but I'm so very grateful this one does.

It took teams of people working across the US, UK, Germany, Afghanistan, and Pakistan to make this happen. And all of you.

Shannon

https://vimeo.com/668249783

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Shannon Galpin posted a new update:
6 months ago

Update #18

Final Update:

The campaign ended a while ago but I've been meaning to post an update to everyone as this is still the main form of lengthy communications! A massive thank you to everyone that donated and shared this campaign. There is so much that could have not been done without your help!

as of the end of March here is where we stand.

The group that was evacuated in September to UAE with the coordination of Israaid which included 18 female cyclists from Bamyan, the family of original national team cyclist (and 'star' of Afghan Cycles documentary) Frozan Rasooli who lives in France, along with several members of the women's robotics team is still in the Humanitarian Village in UAE but have had their final visa processing done by Canada and will be finally traveling soon in small groups to Canada. Two of the cyclists had husbands left behind. I have evacuated one to Pakistan who was also a cyclist, and he has just had his biometrics appointment for Canada with the hopes that he can reunite with Maryam. The other husband is getting his passport which we funded and we hope to find a solution for their reunification as well.

Meanwhile I continued to evacuate small groups to Pakistan and to date that has totalled over 80 Afghan cyclists and family members. Several have been resettled to Germany, Sweden, the US, and Switzerland. The majority remain in Pakistan and we have been supporting them in guesthouses which has been an enormous expense, averaging $500 per person per month for food, lodging, occasional medical expenses (we have had two medical emergencies and a couple of non-emergency medical issues). We have had to renew visas multiple times and renew passports that were near expiry dates. But this week we received the good news that Italy announced publicly that they will take 64 athletes and family members next month. We had been working on this with Italian journalist, Francesca Monzone since September, but we were not allowed to talk publicly about it. She deserves all the credit for getting Italy to take so many. We also have another group of 20 they will take in May to another location. None of these 84 Afghans will go to a camp, Francesca and her sponsors have negotiated them into a special situation where they will live in apartments and go to school, train, or be able to work.

A group of 27 remain in Afghanistan, 5 cyclists and family members that are hiding in safehouses after fleeing Bamiyan. National team members and Oqab team members that have been targeted by the Taliban on the orders of President Fazli who is still in Switzerland at UCI Headquarters. One cyclist was arrested and beat up, the rest had the Taliban visit their homes. I arranged safe houses as a temporary solution but we cannot keep supporting them or evacuate them without funding, so we are working on the next steps. We were able to find a sponsor to directly support one family's passports. Another has supported visas. Slowly we are chipping away at a problem we thought we had more time to figure out - but due to the direct threats to them and their family by their own cycling federation, we are now having to safeguard.

There are still a handful of cyclists that we are securing passports for, and then we can get them out and they are on the list for Italy. There are others that are being evacuated with Farid Noori's group, MTB Afghanistan so we have made sure that we aren't double teaming the same remaining cyclists since we know the same people.

At this stage, all fundraising is being done through the human rights organization, UK Charity, iProbono. They have a fund set up for direct donations and they have a crowdfund set up through JustGiving that you can donate to or share so that I can continue to run the evacuations and safeguard the cyclists. Longterm if we can continue to find funding we will support the cyclists in their new homes and work to keep them connected and through cycling based programming as originally planned before this evacuation became a complete mess.

Please share, post, encourage support through the links below so that we can finish this work. We are not finished. I have at least 3 more months of safeguarding cyclists - safehouses, guesthouses, food. The past two months has been survival versus safeguarding and that hasn't felt good and that is only due to lack of funding. Ukraine diverted attention and funding - which is not surprising. But we still have an evacuation route open, we are still housing and feeding Afghan cyclists and families until we can get their visas issued. It's a massive relief to know that we have such success even if it is at a snail's pace. Then we can focus on their mental health, and long term programming. This isn't over.

You can follow the continued story on social media on IG at @sgalpin74 or twitter at @sgalpin and I'll keep finding ways to engage.

Thank you - SO MUCH!
Shannon

Fundraising Campaign Link: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/evacuation-of-afghan-women-cyclists

Learn about iProbono and the campaign to help the Afghan cyclists:
https://i-probono.com/articles/evacuation-of-afghan-women-cyclists/

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Shannon Galpin posted a new update:
8 months ago

Update #17

Update:

The President of the Afghan Cycling Federation, Fazli, is continuing to harass and threaten cyclists. Since August, Fazli has threatened, harassed, and abused cyclists. He expanded the abuse to doxxing journalists and defaming people like me that are evacuating and supporting cyclists. It is impossible situation made worse when you consider the layers of trauma that these young athletes are enduring already without the head of their own sports federation threatening them with visits from the Taliban. Worse still, Fazli was evacuated by UCI. He and his family and friends were on a list that Fazli created with the President of UCI, David Lappierient despite David being told that Fazli was not including all the cyclists.

On the UCI convoy of over a hundred Afghans only five are confirmed cyclists. UCI sent out press releases after this convoy. They tried to shame people like that me that questioned the convoy manifest from the International Cycling Federation.

As I have stated multiple times since October. David, Sylvan Adams, and Israid's Yotam Polizer and I were on phone calls to discuss the manifest and make sure that as many cyclists as possible were on this convoy. After I submitted a combined list of vetted athletes and family members for consideration to Israaid who were running the logistics I sent David an email explaining the situation of harassment of Fazli and how he was known to be trying to get male staff members and friends out of the country ahead of cyclists. That he was publicly harassing and threatening cyclists and those helping to evacuate cyclists. David cut off communication with me and the convoy list was changed without consulting me. I was sent a list of the convoy manifest by Yotam days before we left and I only knew a handful of names on the list.

Since then I have continued to work to evacuate cyclists and family members and to minimize the trauma of the ongoing abuse by Fazli as he sends threats to cyclists still in Afghanistan and those in third countries waiting for resettlement. His lies spread fear and distrust and his threats have sent multiple cyclists fleeing the country without papers creating chaos and increased danger.

We need the cycling community to step up so we can evacuate the remaining cyclists under threat and keep them safe. We need outrage not just at the need for evacuation which feels insurmountable to most, but for the lack of any engagement from the global cycling community: brands, federations, clubs, pro racers, and of course UCI and the Center for Sport and Human Rights - both located in Switzerland.

Every single cycling federation could be speaking out right now, could be leveraging their platforms and their national riders in support of Afghan cyclists. we could easily raise the money needed to evacuate and protect and resettle the cyclists, but the silence continues to show how little engagement we have for cyclists at risk.

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Shannon Galpin posted a new update:
8 months ago

Update #16

This photo is from a training ride in June 2014. I joined the Afghan Women's National Cycling team for an all day training ride. This was my fourth or fifth time riding with the girls after first meeting them in 2013. This ride was somewhere new. We rode through the streets of Kabul, past Qargah Lake, past several checkpoints, and up a long and winding road towards Paghman. It was a beautiful ride with a steady climb all the way to a beautiful picnic spot by the river.

Everyone was exhausted, but happy. We ate, drank tea, and rinsed our hands and faces in the fast flowing river. The way back was almost all downhill, but the road was curvy in places and rough speedbumps had been built into the road to slow down cars, but taken too fast they could easily unseat a cyclist. I implored everyone to ride with extra awareness and I rode at the back to make sure everyone stayed upright. Not everyone had great handling skills or descending experience, most of the training rides were relatively flat. The last visit I had suggested to their Coach to add more hills into their training to build strength. This was a great ride for that and for working on bike control, but I was nervous watching them all head out. I rode at the bike and watched them all smoothly navigate the curves and the speed bumps.

As the road curved I could see all the way to the front of the group and saw a group of three or four young boys by the side of the road. They had seen the girls and were yelling They began throwing something into the road and I felt fear in the pit of my stomach. It is common place to throw small rocks at women but this could be dangerous, a rock could cause a crash on the descent. There was nothing I could do but hope for the best.

Seconds later, although it felt like hours, I watched each girl pass by while the boys cheered louder and kept throwing things into the road, directly into their path. But the girls just rode smoothly past. As I rode past, my breath caught. They were throwing flowers and cheering for the girls.

That was the moment I knew these young women could change their country. This handful of riders, along with the young women already riding in Bamyan, were challenging the idea of women in the public space every time they rode. They weren't just training for a sport they loved, they were demonstrating their rights to equality through freedom of mobility and access to public space. And the next generation of men, boys now, would grow up seeing women riding bikes just like their fathers and uncles. These boys would teach their sisters to ride bikes and cheer them on in bike races.

This is exactly what happened, in less than one decade in multiple provinces. But it all ended in weeks. Sports are banned. Women are discouraged from the public space. Women drivers are threatened. Women and girls on bikes is once again forbidden. When Kabul fell, a couple girls still rode, dressed up as men. But it became too dangerous.

Most of the women cyclists of Afghanistan are evacuated. Of those, less than a dozen are resettled to Italy, US, Germany, Sweden, and Switzerland. Most of the rest are in resettlement process with Canada and Italy. So are several of their male teammates.

But this has become a juggling act. Evacuation costs, housing costs, safe houses, food stipends, visas, visa extensions, and plane tickets for onward resettlement is insanely expensive. Governments are all abdicating responsibility and putting the costs on those of us still working. It is an evacuation of athletes by crowdfunding. Thank you for being part of this. Please help us raise the funds needed to continue supporting these cyclists.

Thank you everyone for your support. We are not finished.
Shannon

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Shannon Galpin posted a new update:
8 months ago

Update #15

Hi Everyone -

Please meet Maryam and her husband Sadiq. They are both cyclists from Bamiyan. Maryam was evacuated with 18 other teammates to UAE in September on our first and only large convoy. I was able to evacuate her husband last month to Pakistan with four other members of the men's national cycling team. They are very much in love and are hoping to be reunited in Canada once Mariam is settled. But for now they have to remain apart because of borders and red tape. Mariam sent me this photo when she asked me to evacuate Sadiq and it is one of my favorites. She gave me permission to use it to send an update in hopes it would inspire our supporters to remember that this isn't over and we still have a lot of work ahead of us.

I had another successful evacuation yesterday of four people yesterday. Two male cyclists from Bamiyan, teammates of Sadiq, along with two family members. A female national team member and her family are set to evacuate next. To date we have evacuated 98 athletes and family members. We are working to resettle an additional 4 more. I have assisted on hundreds of other evacuations and it feels never ending. While the pace has slowed down it continues to be relentless. I have not yet had a day off since this started August 15th.

Right now, we have 62 Afghan cyclists and family members in Pakistan and 23 more ready to evacuate to join them. Their housing and food is being covered by crowdfunding. It is nearly $30,000 a month to keep everyone housed, fed, and process paperwork until we can get them out. Tomorrow a colleague from iProbono, Jalila is going to meet with everyone in Pakistan to check in and distribute warm clothes. I am hoping to visit soon as well to spend some time with everyone if travel restrictions and the current omnicron wave allows.

The good news: All of them (including the 23 evacuating next week) are now on a resettlement list to an EU country. I've been asked to keep the county secret till we have the 85 visas formally approved. But this is a huge win. The bad news: We are responsible for their plane tickets. Assuming that all 85 get through the security checks, that means that we will need to raise approximately $65,000 to fly them from Pakistan to Europe. Once there, housing and support are in place. But right now, that is money we don't have. We also don't have the funds to continue evacuating the 23 left in this group.

The 25 that were evacuated in September to UAE have submitted all their paperwork for Canada and we hope they will be approved soon. I have video messaged them twice and sent birthday messages - they are safe but depression is setting in for most of them.

At the same time we are navigating the evacuation, resettlement, and fundraising for both, I have lodged a whistleblower complaint with UCI against the Afghan Cycling Federation who continues to threaten and harass cyclists. I have also reached out to the Centre for Sports and Human Rights about this for an independent investigation and of course my colleagues at Equality League are aware of everything. These young athletes should not be suffering additional layers of trauma because of their own Federation's direct abuse by the President.

Thank you everyone for your support and your help. Here's some of the the ways the money is spent:

$500 per person per month in Pakistan - right now that's been averaging $30,000 per month

$7,000 per month for safehouse in Afghanistan

$3,000 per person for evacuation logistics

$750 for passports (an increase from what we were charged in September and October)

$200 food stipends where needed

Shannon

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Shannon Galpin posted a new update:
9 months ago

Update #14

It's almost 5 months since we started supporting the evacuation and resettlement of Afghanistan's cyclists.

First up. If you are getting this - I've extended the fundraiser through January because I have three more evacuations and am currently supporting 54 Afghans with housing and food. That is madness when you consider what this fundraiser was originally started for - the longterm programming support of the Afghan women that we all assumed would be evacuated through cycling.

Instead, the evacuation is happening 4-8 people at a time. No flashy airplane evacs full of hundreds of athletes but instead a relentless grind that reminds me of the Resistance during WWII. Getting passports, visas, securing and extending paperwork, finding new ways to get money into multiple countries, food drops, safe houses, and creating safe routes for evacuation for one car load at a time.

Thanks to all of YOU.

There are four more evacuations in progress and hopefully I can share the success of this last big push.

So far 68 cyclists and family members are in third countries waiting for visas to Canada and Italy. 13 have been relocated to 3 new home countries (Sweden, Germany, and US). There are 10 more cyclists evacuated by other groups and an unknown number in Switzerland from the UCI convoy).

For now, we need funding to continue in order to evacuate the remaining, but also to safely house everyone until they are safe.

Thank you.
Shannon

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Shannon Galpin posted a new update:
10 months ago

Update #13

Week 20 update:

Thanks to your ongoing support, there were two more evacuations this week. And four more groups are being planned or are in progress. The hardest part? Running out of money to support them in guesthouses/safehouses/food stipends once we get them out. Right now we are averaging $35,000 a month to keep everyone safe once we get them out. I need your help to share this fundraiser we are almost at zero.

But… here’s the update that I need everyone to get angry about. This is the all to common situation I've been facing throughout the evacuation. It's time to get loud about it.

There’s a young female cyclist in hiding who the Afghan Cycling Federation has refused to identify or help. They have refused to confirm she is a cyclist, refused to answer questions, and refused to help in any way when asked by a woman the cyclist reached out to. I was shown the written messages between her and the ACF that deny responsibility for her in any way. The messages from men now living in Switzerland because of their role as stewards for Afghan Cycling Federation is irresponsible, apathetic, and disrespectful. There unwillingness to even answer questions about a female cyclist that raced and trained in Afghanistan is horrifying, but unsurprising given the abusive attitudes that the ACF continues to display.

UCI refuses to engage in conversation about the abuse the harassment and the continued lack of responsibility the Afghan Federation President (Fazli) has shown throughout this evacuation. UCI is supporting abuse and supporting a Federation that has not just turned it back on its own athletes but is wilfully trying to dissuade others from helping. The cyclist is riding next to the most prominent Afghan cyclist, Masomah Alizada and two other national team cyclists in the national kit I designed, and sent, for the team. Masomah is celebrated by both the ACF and UCI while her teammates and peers across the country are abandoned.

The Afghan Cycling Federation needs to be sanctioned and its president Mr. Fazli, and the rest of this staff, need to be removed. UCI is now complicit in this abuse as it has been told by multiple sources what is happening and chooses to wilfully ignore.

now that the Afghan Olympic committee has announced that it is going to give a large amount of money to each sport Federation to help support registered athletes that are still living in Afghanistan it is imperative that there is oversight of the Afghan Federation. If Mr. Fazli gets control of that money none of that money will end up supporting Afghan cyclists still in hiding.

This shows that there are multiple ramifications for continuing to allow the Afghanistan Cycling Federation to operate with impunity and disregard for its own Cyclists. There should be an investigation into UCI and to why they are supporting a corrupt and abusive sports Federation in the middle of a life-threatening evacuation. What possible justification is there to continue to ignore the requests by those of us evacuating athletes to simply remove an abuser so that athletes cannot continue to be harmed?

I cannot wait to share the story with you in full once the cyclist and her family is safe. I am disgusted. We have everything screengrabbed for proof.

In the meantime, I look forward to sharing more success stories of evacuations but cannot stress enough how difficult this is and how soul-crushing the disregard of the cycling industry is.

Shannon

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Shannon Galpin posted a new update:
10 months ago

Update #12

International Human Rights Day is today.

The bicycle is a tool for gender equality, equal access, and of course one of the best transportation solutions we have to combat climate change.

The bike has been intrinsically linked to women's rights and the fight for equality for over a century. Most recently we have seen how over the course of just one decade, Afghan women created, led, and fostered, a right to ride movement in Afghanistan.

When women ride, communities change. That is why the women that cycle are at such risk now. It was never just about sports, it was about freedom of mobility and claiming a right to exist equally in the public space.

Because of your support we have another group evacuated since my last update.

Today, with the help of our partners with Equality League, iProbono, and Hogan Lovells, we are amplifying the need to evacuation cyclists and family members and calling on countries to open their borders for resettlement.

In addition, we are expanding this fundraiser to include a group of 13 para athletes that are still in Afghanistan. Our wheelchair athletes and others in their team need evacuation and that means funding for their evacuation and the guesthouse/food to keep them safe until we can get them resettled. They will join our other athletes so that they can all support each other in Pakistan while we fight for them to be resettled.

We need to raise another $150,000 to continue to evacuate cyclists (we still have there more evacuations in progress) and to support safe houses, food stipends, etc. for those still in Afghanistan and facing a winter without money or jobs, and for those we get out who need longterm support in guesthouses. Right now our housing/food costs are approximately $35,000 a month. The quicker we can evacuate and the quicker we can get those evacuated resettled the better. Thank you everyone! Please help raise awareness of the campaign today in honor of International Human Rights Day (and every day)!!

Shannon

photo: Jenny Nichols - Afghan Cycles

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Shannon Galpin posted a new update:
10 months ago

Update #11

Week 19 Update.

Does that sound ridiculous to you? 19 weeks?

As you know, we got Nazifa's family out and we have another family in progress now. I can't wait to let go of the breath I'm holding and share the incredible news with you.

Here's where we are:

18 women cyclists from Bamiyan - Oqab sports team are in UAE processing for Canada

The founder of the first Kabul bike club and her three siblings are in Uganda processing for the US. Fatima attended high school and college in the US, she has spent Thanksgiving with me and my daughter, and was living back in Kabul with her family when the Taliban took over. She is applying for a university program now.

The family of Frozan Rasooli - the National Cycling Team member that is the cyclist that graces the cover of the documentary film poster for Afghan Cycles I helped produce with Let Media. The family is in UAE and we are processing them to France to reunite them with Frozan who was given asylum in 2018 thanks to the help of Hogan Lovells.

Zakia Mohammadi's family of 5 joined her in Germany where she is currently living as a refugee. As I've shared before, she and Zahra are responsible for the Bamiyan cycling movement and for opening the door for the first races in Afghanistan for Afghan women. This would not have happened with Ina Brock, the senior partner at Hogan Lovells advocating every step of the way for this family.

Zahra and her husband are now in Sweden. She founded the Bamyan cycling movement on her own. She studied archeology at the University of Bamyan and worked for the first female governor. Sweden gained an incredible young woman.

Nazifa and her family (6 people) are safe and we are keeping them in a guesthouse until we can find a new home.

Dr. Abulfazl's family of 10 people is safe and we are keeping them in a guesthouse until we can find them a new home. Hajar Abulfazl was the captain of the National Football team and a major sports and human rights voices currently living in the US. She has awards from ESPN and others for her work. More on her and her family later - they were in hiding and the Taliban were searching for them and her father was almost caught multiple times until we got them out two weeks ago.

There are men and women cyclists from the national team and the Oqab team still on our list to evacuate in the weeks and months ahead. This fundraiser has been funding guesthouses, safe houses, and food stipends. We now have a group of 13 para athletes I've been asked to evacuate.

Other than the convoy we evacuated to the UAE which was funded by Sylvan Adams and Israaid, these incredible humans who I know personally were evacuated and supported in THIS fundraiser. Thank you. thank you thank you.

So much more to share and say, but for now, just know that you matter. This fundraiser has mattered. I am grateful beyond measure. We still are not done. And the only barrier is funding, which breaks my heart. So please share. I've posted on my IG bio another link for a Just Giving campaign - same work, just more accessible globally and it will deposit directly in the human rights organization, iProbono who has set up a separate fund for the evacuation and resettlement of cyclists. We aren't stopping.

x,
Shannon

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Shannon Galpin posted a new update:
10 months ago

Update #10

Giving Tuesday win:

One of the original members of the National Cycling Team, Nazifa Hassani and her family were evacuated yesterday. She was part of so many iconic photos that have been used in global media, two museum exhibitions, and even this photo was part of a stylized marketing campaign in Denmark by Noa Noa, but rarely do you see her face. Yet from 2013 onwards... there she is. A young woman determined to be a cyclist.

I met Nazifa in 2013 and continued to ride with her over multiple visits. She was part of the first training camp for women cyclists that I organised for the national team in Bamiyan. She was a key member of the team for several years until she quit to study medicine. When Kabul fell to the Taliban in August she was working at the hospital.

She was a member of the team that were honored as National Geographic Adventurers of the Year and it is because of her and the other original teammates that the team was nominated by a group in Italy for the Nobel Peace Prize. What we are saying is...the women like Nazifa were the women that challenged the taboo of women on bikes through the sport of cycling. They were the first to ride bikes in sports in public spaces. They were the first to race in competition outside of Afghanistan and the first to eventually race in their own country thanks to the hard work of women cyclists in Bamiyan, Zakia and Zahra who are now living in Germany and Sweden respectively.

She was part of the documentary feature film, Afghan Cycles, and has talked openly about her father being killed by the Taliban and the threats to her brother. She wanted to study medicine to directly combat the stigma of women cycling and to challenge the virginity tests still considered necessary by some in Afghan culture.

I bring attention to this evacuation and hopefully the one yet to come in a few days...the women that challenged the taboo, broke through the gender barrier, and represented their country in international competitions, are the ones left behind. The Afghan Cycling Federation did not deem them worthy enough to evacuate. The ACF would not exist without them. UCI left them behind.

Can we evacuate every athlete? No. Should we? That is a debatable and nuanced conversation many of us are having. But when the women that changed the course of history in their country are ignored and left behind by the sports governing bodies that benefitted directly from their bravery, it needs to be called out.

Thank you everyone for your support. Nazifa and her family are now going to face the daunting next steps of finding a permanent home, but we hope borders will open for women that have contributed so much.

In gratitude and many many happy tears,
Shannon

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Shannon Galpin posted a new update:
10 months ago

Update #9

Hi Everyone,

I have a few specific updates based on questions I have received. And I thought you'd like to meet my evacuation logistics team member, Rue. My daughter and I literally picked her up just days into the evacuation, requiring a train ride to England while I organised on my phone the entire journey) and she has been a source of joy in the 24/7 hour chaos and heartbreak. She decided to help with the newsletter today.

1. Covid update:

At this stage we are not hearing of borders closing for refugees - YET. We are working incredibly hard to get our groups across the border this week and then we can look at their onward resettlement and try to work on remaining athletes. Afghans are messaging daily worried that this will keep them from evacuating as they see the news.

2. Afghan athletes beyond cyclists:

I have been working with my longtime collaborators at Equality League since August to compile lists of the athletes that need evacuation and that current list totals over 1200 athletes. Only a few hundred (including the cyclists) have been evacuated. FIFA, UCI, Israaid, and others like the Rainbow Coalition have worked to get out several Afghans that were on our combined lists, but a few hundred still leaves 1000 at-risk athletes across the sports in peril. They are 'on the list' with the State Department but that is going nowhere fast and by the time they are processed the evacuation may be nothing but a trickle. I am committed to support however I can for the long haul as we may have a long period of pausing after this next group gets out. I have worked across multiple evacuations in small and big ways to get many Afghans athletes and their family members out that are not cyclists - these are athletes not funded directly out of this fundraiser, but other support systems. This fundraiser will remain dedicated to the cyclists, but as I begin to share the stories online of highly at risk Afghans human rights defenders and athletes (and family members) that I am helping to support along with others, I wanted you to know that this fundraiser was still dedicated to cyclists and the long term support. Those of you who know me or my work know that I worked on the ground in Afghanistan since 2008 and have worked across a unique cross-section including the women's prisons, the deaf community, journalism, art, and sports. I am working to evacuate those I know personally or can verify through my work and my networks. This goes beyond cyclists, but as mentioned, that is funded by alternative sources.

3. Cyclist updates. While programming is long way off and will need additional funds as the evacuation proved to be a lengthy and expensive phase that is not over, there are cyclists that are out and are connected with incredible support systems exactly how we would hope. I already shared the story of a cycling family reunited in Germany and they have a lot of on-the-ground support. Additionally, six cyclists were evacuated by the Italian Federation in the initial wave of military evacs and are supported and already training. Two cyclists, Afsana and Rukhsar in the US are deeply supported and connected with individuals and organisations such as MTB Afghanistan and the Twenty20 cycling team. Another two cyclists - a husband and wife team with their daughter are in the US but not yet off of the military base where they are currently living. They have had support and caring from the community which I hope will continue to expand once they are able to move to a home.

We have a family of four siblings in Uganda that is awaiting resettlement in the US that will need care and support wherever they land. Zahra and her husband arrived in Sweden and will need support. These Afghans do not need specific support from the cycling community as they no longer ride but were leaders in the original cycling movement back in 2012 and 2013, the two former cyclists are highly educated and creative women who have so much to offer. UCI along with Israaid evacuated a group of cyclists - in a highly controversial evacuation due to the Afghan Cycling Federation president's abuse, but we wish the cyclists evacuated well and are happy they have safe harbour in Switzerland. There is work ahead to continue to expose the abuse and harassment and corruption of the Afghan Cycling Federation so that they no longer hold legitimacy and cannot continue their abuse behavior towards the cyclists that get out. You can read an article about the abuse and the steps forward here by Cycling Tips:

https://cyclingtips.com/2021/11/serious-allegations-arise-over-afghan-cyclist-evacuations/

I am also working to reunite former national team member, Frozan Rasooli's family in France, they are currently in the UAE with a group of women cyclists from Bamiyan working on paperwork. This group was an early evacuation of 35 in coordination with Israaid. It is expected that the rest of this group of cyclists will go to Canada.

A few successes of friends and community include Sajjad and Ali Shah, leaders of the ski and mountaineering community. They and their families got to Italy in August with the help of several organisations including Adventure Not War and Untamed Borders. The women's basketball team is safe in Albania thanks to FIFA and Equality League which so far has an amazing temporary home, but no onward resettlement yet. Two LGBTQIA athletes on our list were evacuated with the Rainbow Bridge coalition and one, a snowboarder has already been resettled in UK, and we are working to make sure the transgender cyclist is given a new permanent home. Aseer has been through layers of trauma and no matter how he gets resettled he will need community support and trauma support. Lastly, the 10-person family of a US based sports and human rights leader, former national football captain, and dear friend, who are now safe in Pakistan after a land evac a couple weeks ago. We are working on their onward resettlement options, which are limited but we are committed to their support for as long as it takes.

I hope that gives you a broader overview of the work that has been going on...and a few of the partners and overlaps of organisations involved. There have been multiple overlaps since August and it has taken a global village who spontaneously and continuously connects to solve this ever-evolving puzzle. I don't think we will all ever know the layers involved but I want to celebrate the constellation of citizens around the world that came together in August to evacuate Afghans. In the chaos it's been difficult to articulate how incredible special and unique a situation this has been.

Of course, none of this would be possible with the incredible global team at Hogan Lovells who has supported this evacuation in ways too many to count but thousands of pro bono hours. Additionally thank you to the SE Asian and London teams of iProbono who are committed to supporting this work long term and have been invaluable to supporting next steps in Pakistan with those we get across.

Again, a huge thank you for YOUR support of the evacuation and resettlement efforts. None of this would be possible without you.

More to come, we are not giving up. Please keep this updated private and do not share as its more information that we want to make public even thought its only a small slice of the evacuation logistics which hopefully we can share in the months ahead. But please please share the fundraiser and help amplify the need for funding. We have a long term fund set up with iProbono for UK and US donations that want or need to be run through a non-profit so just message me directly for that information.

Shannon (and Rue)

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Shannon Galpin posted a new update:
10 months ago

Update #8

Hello Everyone,

Week 18 Update. Can't believe I'm writing that.

Where to start. First, thank you. I did not think I would be extending the deadline of this fundraiser again, but I didn't think we'd still be working to get Afghans evacuated as December rolls in. But it is still a job of individuals and small non profits that are doing the majority of the evacuations, and if you saw the Kim Kardashian/Leeds evacuation or read about the UCI evacuation a couple months ago you'll know its not without drama.

Here's where what is going on. I am sending money to several groups of Afghans to pay for food and safe housing inside of Afghanistan while they wait for evacuation. I am paying for guesthouses and food for groups that transition through Pakistan. As stated before, the biggest expense is paying to evacuate small groups overland so that we can get the people on our list out before borders close.

The past couple weeks have had a few things to celebrate.
The Mohammadi family reunited in Germany after several weeks in Pakistan. Thanks to the incredible help of the Hogan Lovells law firm and their Germany office we were able to reunite what I think of as, Afghanistan's first cycling family. The photo above is of the youngest daughter, Hania, riding in Bamiyan. She celebrated her birthday on Friday and the lawyers got her a bike so she can start riding again. She is the youngest cyclist on our evacuation lists. Her sister is a key member of the Afghan National Team, Reinhanna, and the eldest sister is co-founder of the entire cycling movement in Afghanistan, Zakia.

We got another family of 9 to safety in Pakistan a week later. This family had been in hiding since Kabul fell and were nearly captured several times. An uncle was arrested by the Taliban for hiding them. The eldest daughter, a dear friend, is an award winning sports and human rights figure in the US, and a doctor. We had hoped to get this family to Canada on visas that they had been given but now Canada isn't honoring these visas and we need to find an alternative country for them to resettle. Just an example of the continued nightmare facing everyone we are working to support - the blockade hits at every level.

The good news has been that we have been able to wire money via Western Union to several families and groups of cyclists in hiding for food and housing. That has been a lifeline to many since money and jobs have been non-existent since the banks closed for so many. If you read the news you know that Afghanistan is facing a food shortage as winter arrives and widespread starvation is a very real reality.

We are preparing four small groups to evacuate this week if all goes to plan. Two of the women in this group are the original Afghan National Women's Cycling Team members. It is unacceptable that they, and their families, were left off any sort of evacuation lists by the Federation when they were the women who opened the door to cycling as a sport and were the most visible cyclists in the country. These are two of the women that were part of the team honored as National Geographic Adventurers of the Year and nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. But the Afghan Cycling Federation and UCI never even had them or the other key members of the original team, or the founders of the women's cycling movement in Bamiyan, on their evacuation lists. I've been working to evacuate this group of women and their families as they were extremely high profile and as the first generation of cyclists their entire families were threatened by the taboo of their daughter's riding bikes.

The next 28 doesn't not include everyone, but its the last group of those I know directly and who were left off any other federation or athlete list. After that there is still the men's cycling team and several individual women that deserve to be safe but I don't have a way to get them out yet without extensive funding. I also have several other athletes that I have stepped up to try and help if I can. From the beginning it has been a multi-layered and overlapping approach to evacuation and resettlement and my own crossover includes skiers and mountaineers, women footballers, and snowboarders among a couple journalists/media personalities. It is a failure of so many governments to allow the most at-risk to remain in hiding and without access to food and safe housing.

Now as a new Covid variant emerges many are fearful that borders that were already difficult to navigate will be closed because of the fear of the virus. Time is running out.

Thank you for all your support and help. This would be impossible without your donations and amplification.

In gratitude,
Shannon

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Shannon Galpin posted a new update:
11 months ago

Update #7

Hello Everyone,

It's been an endless 12 1/2 weeks, but small 'wins' keep coming despite the ever-evolving barriers and blockades against the evacuation.

This morning a family deeply connected to sports and human rights was brought to safety. They have invitations for Canada and we hope that despite Canada's about-face, that they will be granted visas as promised. I will share more about this family once they are settled, it has been a traumatic time for them, in hiding and hunted by the Taliban, they moved multiple times and an uncle was arrested several weeks ago for hiding them. They should have been out in the first week to prevent this from happening. But as I've shared often here, the planes that did leave, left half empty, and most of the Afghans that were prioritized to leave were unable to even get into the airport.

Additionally, two incredible updates regarding women that are at the heart of the Afghan cycling revolution. Zahra Hosseini who was riding bikes in Afghanistan on her own back in 2011 started the first teams for men and women in Bamyan and grew the cycling movement to what it is today. She worked for the first female Governor of Bamyan and studied archeology at Bamyan University. She's an activist and a leader and she and her husband escaped on their own thanks to help of several people in our community. She was in hiding for nearly 11 weeks and thanks to the support of the human rights community with iProbono we were able to get her papers so she could safely travel to the Swedish Embassy and they arrived in Stockholm two days ago. We are supporting her with some funds to help them get settled as they arrived with nothing but amazingly, they will be able to connect with an old friend from Bamyan who we helped escape Afghanistan many years ago who is racing on the Stockholm cycling team as a pro athlete. If you have any connections in Sweden please let us know, Zahra and her husband will need our support to get re-established in Sweden.

Zahra's friend, Zakia Mohammadi, co-founded the cycling teams in Afghanistan and together they grew a female-founded, female-led, cycling movement that included the first races for women in Afghanistan. Zakia escaped to Germany a couple years ago, but her two sisters race, Reihanna in particular is one of the best cyclists in Afghanistan today and she and her younger sister represent the current generation of Afghan cyclists that benefitted from the work of Zahra and Zakia before them. Zakia's family, including Reihanna, were stuck in Afghanistan and thanks to the work with our legal support in Hogan Lovell's German office we secured visas for the family and Zakia's fiance to reunite together. Our team was able to get them out last week to the relief of all of us. They have visited the German Embassy and are waiting for visas. The Germany Embassy has been incredible and welcoming, I only wish every other country was as willing to support these incredible humans.

Both Zahra and Zakia were included in the book, Revolutions by Hannah Ross about the history of women's cycling. You can purchase this in the UK and US and learn about not just their contribution to changing the attitudes towards women on bikes, but the stories of Dervla Murphy who rode her bike from Ireland through Afghanistan in the 1960's. She is still alive and recounted her memories to Hannah and I adore the thread of cycling in Afghanistan connecting over 50-plus years later.

The first big group of women cyclists and family members that got out with an Israaid organized convoy two months ago is still in UAE waiting for Canada to process their promised visas. Canada needs to step up, if you have connections there at a high political level this is something that needs pressure. They have given invitations for visas to over 1000 athletes but aren't processing them now that they are getting out. Despite saying publicly they would take in 40,000 refugees. Why are they stalling now? These athletes need safe harbor and quickly.

These aren't our only evacuations, but they are ones I can share. More evacuations are in progress and I hope to get our final groups out soon. Thank you for your support, this wouldn't have happened without you.

Shannon

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Shannon Galpin posted a new update:
12 months ago

Update #6

October 17. It's been exactly 9 weeks today since Kabul fell and this citizen led evacuation began.

Today marks 29 days since the Taliban banned schools for girls and longer still since they announced that girls sports were banned.

I haven't been as loud on social media or here with updates as I first was. That is not because the evacuation is slowing down or ending (even if media attention is gone) but because it is more dangerous, more complicated, and more expensive now. The Taliban are active on social media and its a thin line - raising awareness and funding to evacuate Afghans, but risk shutting down possible evacuation routes. Every day its a new barrier but the fact is that most of the barriers to the evacuation are not from the Taliban, but from neighboring countries keeping their borders closed or refusing to allow the creation of humanitarian corridors, and from governments like US, UK, Canada, and many many more actively preventing flights and evacuations or preventing refugee resettlement. Evacuation is a difficult enough battle, visas to exit, asylum or even third party visas, are even more difficult than the logistics side.

I have an incredible team of lawyers with Hogan Lovells and iProbono that are helping in a myriad of ways and have been vital to the success of those that have gotten out in multiple evacuations often playing behind on the scenes on other evacuations to help open doors or negotiate with different governments.

This is no longer a humanitarian evacuation, not that it ever really was, it is 'pay to play' now. All of the evacuations cost an enormous amount of money, which has to be paid if we want to get all the athletes out. There are lots of athletes on multiple evacuation lists. But those that are getting out are getting out need funding. Individuals around the world are doing the work I am doing with their groups - we are all doing the work that governments should be doing. I know that I for one am exhausted and would like to focus on my own work and spend time with my daughter. But to do so feels like abandonment. Governments and humanitarian organizations need to do the work we are doing. They need to fund the work we are doing. None of us can continue like this much longer. But what is the alternative?

When it is safe to do so, I will share a ton more information, I already took down a previous post as I felt it shared too much specifics. There are so many stories, so many successes, so many failures, and so much trauma. I am not giving up and I am grateful for all of you that have supported this campaign and are making it possible to keep going. Until it's impossible I'm not walking away.

x
shannon

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Shannon Galpin posted a new update:
12 months ago

Update #5

hello Everyone,

I appreciate all the notes and messages of support as this evacuation/blockade drags onwards past the 7 week mark today. While I have been quiet on details let me share that we have gotten down to the last three groups of people on my list. Two groups of Hazara cyclists that were part of the Oqab cycling team that were left off the recent UCI sponsored evacuation because of prejudice and bullying/harassment by the Afghan Cycling Federation. The Federation was upset with me for evacuating a group of 30+ Afghans on a convoy several weeks ago because they said they were not "real cyclists'. The Hazara teams in Bamiyan have always operated independently from the cycling federation but it is this community that spearheaded women's cycling by women for women and with male support. This is also the community that started the first races for women and girls in the entire country back in 2013 long before the federation began including women's racing. This is a longer, more disturbing story that builds upon the past decade of abuse and harassment claims against the federation that I have continued to amplify while supporting the cyclists themselves. We also have the men's cycling team who nobody is trying to help get out, these are Hazaras, they are allies, and they are young athletes that want to continue to live in peace. They are in hiding, many have had Taliban visits, and in some cases we are funding safe houses and food stipends.

Our final groups are families of the original National team members, one has gotten out and others are awaiting evacuation. We also have a handful of other at risk athletes that we have been helping to evacuate and to stay safe who have been in hiding and under direct threat of Taliban reprisals.

There are many evacuation operations in play. Every day it becomes a new puzzle with missing pieces that we need to find. Right now - we have allocated most of the fundraising resources in multiple evacuations logistics, food stipends, and lodging. I deleted the last update with specifics as we realized that any information can potentially jeopardize future evacuations as each solution becomes a way to prevent more people from leaving. So until this is all over I don't want to share more.

We do have visas being processed in multiple countries for our athletes. Few other than the handful that have already arrived in the US will be headed that way because the system is overloaded and broken. We have solutions in the EU and UK and are working to make sure that no one is left in geographic limbo once we do get them evacuated.

Right now, we have solutions for evacuation, but they are all expensive. Organization that have raised millions of dollars are not sharing with our groups so we need to fundraise our own evacuations. On average these are now $5,000 a person and we still have 80 on our list. We have reduced our list drastically which is amazing and due to the work to multiple organizations and individuals all chipping away at our mutual overlaps and coordinated operations.

All that to say, THIS is why we raised the fundraising goal and extended the timeline. It is still going to take several weeks to get these athletes out and several more to relocate safely and then we can start focusing on resettlement and support. It's still the beginning. Thank you for your help and your support. I'm attaching a photo that the Bamiyan based, Oqab team, was happy for us to share that shows you what the Afghan Cycling Federation and UCI left behind because they weren't 'real cyclists'.

Best,
Shannon

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Shannon Galpin posted a new update:
about 1 year 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:
about 1 year 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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