Photo courtesy of Social Europe

          Westfield High School students and staff collected personal care items for thousands of displaced Afghan refugees who flooded into the region after the chaos that took place in Afghanistan when the U.S withdrew military forces. 

          The personal items included clothing, cosmetics and anything new and suitable for daily  tasks.  These were brought to advisory or the front office and later delivered to Inova hospital for distribution. The drive took place over two weeks from late September to early October. 

          “We had three truckloads of things that we delivered, and that was really great,” remarked Luann Hoyseth, Subschool 5 Administrator.

          Plenty of people worked to make the collection successful. The International Awareness Club  participated by helping to promote the collection. Staff members also made a connection inside the community. They were able to help organize where the donation would go and made sure they got there. 

          “I saw all that the refugees were going through on the news, and I thought I should try and help them by giving them essential items,” explained Bhavya Gurumoorthy, 9. “I felt good that I was able to help but sad that the situation was happening.” 

          An October article in WUSA9 states that Fairfax County public schools have welcomed 93 students who are part of the influx of Afghan families who have resettled in the area. Westfield High School welcomed a few new Afghan students in late September.

          Hoyseth expressed high hopes for these students: “The kids that are here in the building are going to be welcoming and kind to these kids as they come in and become bulldogs.” 

          From 1996 to 2001, the Taliban, a terrorist organization, controlled Afghanistan. Many Afghans are now trying to escape the country due to the return of terrorist authority, fleeing the possibilities of being charged for treason simply due to their support of LGBTQ and Women’s rights or U.S intervention.   

          “The pulling out of Afghanistan and all of that caused a crisis,” explained Hoyseth. “So we just decided there’s a need, and so we went with it.” 

          When the Taliban took control of Afghanistan on August 15, the United States and other countries frantically withdrew all military forces and evacuated citizens and refugees. The Afghan government was cast out by the Taliban, who have developed their new form of government.

          The Taliban has been classified as a terrorist organization since 1994. Since the mid-1990s, they have launched attacks on the Afghan government. In 1996, when they first controlled Afghanistan, they prohibited girls from getting an education and employment. 

          Their new government council is now made up entirely of men. Women’s rights have already been disappearing since the Taliban took over. A September article in the New York Times explained the harrowing ground escape route Afghan Women’s rights activists take to flee the country. 

          According to an August article in the Washington Post, refugees were processed at Fort Pickett military base in Virginia or Inova hospital. More than 8,600 refugees  arrived at Dulles International Airport in Fairfax County, where they were housed at Dulles Expo Center. 

          “I think we have helped out with this crisis that’s happening,” affirmed Hoyseth. “There are some military and government families in our community that have been to Afghanistan, and tried to make it a safer place, and I think they were very much aware of what’s going on. So it was very nice to be able to give to the Afghan community that’s coming here.”