Maria giving her sick child medicine (left) and Maltese artist Angele Galea (right)
A Maltese artistic director and producer has started a fundraising campaign for an Afghani activist and her five children who managed to flee their country after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.
The artist, Angele Galea, decided to start the campaign after the “intense and emotional experience” of listening to the stories of activists she met during an online panel, which made her understand exactly what was happening in the region.
“I could not remain passive after such an emotional connection,” Angele said. “I could not help but feel that I needed to help her. In my mind, she could have been me, being an activist myself locally.”
Angele met four Afghani activists and artists who were directly affected by the disastrous situation in their country during an online panel. She particularly connected with one of the activists, who spoke about women’s issues that are still considered taboo in Afghanistan.
“Her only ‘crime’ was making sure female issues are discussed in public,” Angele explains. “For that, she was beaten in public which then escalated into death threats.”
Activist Maria*, 42, and her five children managed to flee the country as the situation rapidly deteriorated, but her family and husband are still trapped in Afghanistan and remain in grave danger.
She is currently residing in Pakistan, in fear of her and her children’s lives, and without any financial support and official documents. “She lives helplessly in Pakistan with her young, bewildered children, who are disorientated by this huge change in their life,” Angele explained.
The children are not coping well due to the stress of the threats they had to flee from, leaving the country so quickly their father and Maria’s husband couldn’t join. To make things worse, one of them even ended up hospitalised due to his deteriorating health.
“Maria doesn’t have access to their bank account, which was shut,” Angele said. That makes it all the more difficult to take care of her children and herself as she is stranded in a foreign country.
The work Maria did as the founder of an empowered women’s organisation is what makes her an easy target for the Taliban’s threats and beatings.
Besides being an activist, she was a tv presenter, PhD student, and a sociologist at the Ministry of Urban Development and Land. However, the ever growing threats forced her to resign from her work on tv, even having to live in secret for a while.
Menstruation is still a taboo topic in Afghanistan, and little information is available to women. Maria and her colleagues had been conducting public awareness campaigns in Kabul, Bamiyan, and Daykundi at different facilities, including girls’ schools.
Due to this, she spent three years living in uncertainty and anxiety in different parts of Afghanistan, but she was never able to leave the country. With the fall of Kabul by the Taliban, she and her children finally fled – but without any financial support.
Even though Maria doesn’t have any official documents in Pakistan, Angele is in contact with people who can pass her money effectively and who use reliable systems to do so. “This is one of the ways to ease her trauma a little.”
You can help Maria and her five children yourself by donating here.
Angele will ensure donations safely end up in Maria’s hands so she can take care of herself and her children in this incredibly hard situation.
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