UNHCR World Refugee Day – Accomplishments, accolades and annotations

In June we shared information about the UNHCR’s World Refugee Day (WRD) events and Khaled’s participation in their 2012 Dilemma campaign. If you have not had a chance to see Khaled’s video, please check it out! Khaled had the opportunity to participate in the UN daily briefing as part of WRD events. Watch it now to learn more about the refugee situation in Afghanistan. If you haven’t had the opportunity to read Khaled’s speech for WRD, read it now.

Khaled was also honored as an Outstanding American by Choice by the State Department. In his acceptance speech Khaled said, “The truth is that if I’m being called an outstanding American today, it’s because the United States made the choice to grant asylum to myself and my family back in 1980. Our homeland of Afghanistan had been invaded by the Soviet Union and war had erupted. And weekly, I remember hearing news from Kabul of people that we knew back home: friends, relatives, people I’d been raised with, aunts, uncles, who were being imprisoned, tortured, killed, or would simply disappear. We heard harrowing tales of people fleeing and trekking across deserts and over mountain ranges in the dark of night. And I think a lot about how fortunate I’ve been. And every day, I give thanks for this miraculous act of generosity and for my home and this great nation. And I imagine, as I have on many occasions, what my life, how it might have turned out, had the U.S. not granted asylum to my family and me.

In 1980, I was 15 years old. If I’d returned to Afghanistan, I’m certain that my options would have been few and they would have been dire. It’s entirely likely that I would have been drafted and sent to fight. I might have been injured, paralyzed, or killed. My family may have fled to Pakistan. They may have had to live in a refugee camp. Our prospects for leaving a refugee camp and having a home of our own again would have been dim. And some of the people that I love might have died long before we had a chance to resettle. So I’ve been very fortunate indeed.”. Read the entire speech.

As WRD events have drawn to a close, we have been able to reflect on the events for 2012 and are pleased to share some results from the UNHCR:

  • 24,161  Number of people who pledged to stand with Angelina Jolie on World Refugee Day
  • 4,712  Number of tweets in support of #WorldRefugeeDay
  • 3,874  Number who saw Angelina Jolie’s public service announcement online
  • 2,519  Number who watched the UNHCR’s “Dilemmas” video series
  • $40,522 – Amount raised for refugees for UNHCR

We hope you will support the UNHCR’s 2012 Dilemma campaign by sharing their video series with your friends and families. Raising awareness about refugee issues is the first step in combating the life threatening issues they face.

USA for UNHCR The UN Refugee Agency

Khaled Hosseini

© John Dolan


SOS Schools Soar Part 2 – Rye High School raises funds for shelters, saving families in Afghanistan!

Congratulations seniors at Rye High School in Rye, Colorado for successfully completing their SOS program!

Nancy Scoffield, an English teacher at Rye High School brought the culture and people of Afghanistan to her students in Colorado through her creative program and introduction of SOS. Her senior class started off by reading The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. Once the students completed their assignments they began their SOS program, which consisted of a variety of activities including watching The Kite Runner film, watching a National Geographic video and reading articles on Afghanistan. The seniors especially enjoyed a day of flying kites and eating naan (a leavened, oven-baked flatbread).

When we spoke to Nancy at the beginning of her adoption of SOS she shared with us that, “the kids are really excited about the SOS program. One girl is writing an article in our local weekly newspaper, and they’ve been coming up with lots of good ideas. At first $1,500* sounded like a lot of money, but then one girl (new to our school) asked how many seniors there were. I have 40 between the two classes. She put it all into perspective by telling us that if we all raise $40, we’ll have more than the goal. That seems so do-able!”.

The students were so inspired by Ms. Scoffield’s enthusiasm for the material that they were able to raise over $750 for the Shelter Program! Over $500 alone was raised hosting “Muffin Monday’s” selling muffins for $1. The students also sold “bricks” for $1 each to build a shelter. Their progress was tracked using a shelter constructed of paper bricks on a white board.

If you are and educator or student and are interested in adopting SOS at your school please contact Cristie Burr at cristie@khaledhosseinifoundation.org.

*At the time of the assembly the cost of the shelter was $1,500, due to fluctuating materials costs and foreign exchange rates the cost of a shelter is now $2,000.


Poster made to remind students that "each dollar will reach a child in Afghanistan."

Poster made to remind students that "each dollar will reach a child in Afghanistan." © Rye High School

SOS at Rye High School

© Rye High School


Kabul – A City at Work

Who is the driving instructor, zookeeper or female Army General in Kabul? Find out now! Kabul: City at Work is a fascinating site whose goal is to share the lives of its residents with the rest of the world. The video vignettes, photos and interviews serve to demystify who lives and works in Kabul. The goals of the project are to:

  1. Give Afghan people an international voice.
  2. Attract a global audience for cultural issues in Kabul.
  3. Provide a sustainable template for further creative projects.
  4. Dispel negative perceptions of Afghanistan.

The interviews collectively and individually paint a portrait of the city, making it more accessible to those of us not familiar with it. Kabul is a busy, bustling city with residents trying to make a living in a country ravished by over 30 years of conflict.

When we saw the vignette on General Khatool Maohammadzai, a female Army General, there was a range of emotions, none the least of which was pride in her accomplishments, her tenacity and fearlessness. One of her most notable quotes was, “If women want to work outside of the house, then they should take on work which astonishes men.” She is nothing if not astonishing as proven by her status as General and Master Parachutist in the Afghan army, with over 500 free jumps in her background. Read her story now.


Grantee Update AFN – the proof is in the pudding!

How do we know if the work being done in Afghanistan, the work of our grantees, the work you have funded, is making a difference? Quite simply, through the success of the students educated in our grantees school programs, the fact that girls are attending school consistently and the fact that families, women and children, are able to sleep under a roof in their own recently constructed home! We are pleased to share a story from one of our grantees, Afghan Friends Network (AFN).

Marzia: An AFN Success Story*

When given a platform of education that affirms their worth, it is humbling what AFN students at the Khurasan Learning Centers achieve. We received the wonderful news that Marzia, a 12th grader at the KLCs supported by AFN [and through grants from TKHF], has been awarded a scholarship from the Afghan government to study in India. The scholarship recipient search was nationwide and very competitive; neither Marzia’s sister nor her classmates passed the exam. Marzia writes, “My success is your kindness, because by your project I was able to learn English language, solve answers and become successful.” Marzia’s family has been supportive of her education. Her father, who was disabled, recently passed [away], and we hear that her family has rallied behind her, despite numerous challenges. Our heartfelt thanks go to our teachers, our students, and you, our friends and donors, who collectively make life changing stories like Marzia’s possible. Congratulations to Marzia!

*reprinted with permission from AFN

At the Khuarasan Learning Center Library

At the Khuarasan Learning Center Library. Please note that the faces of the students are not shown for their safety. © AFN