Like many in the bike community, I woke up yesterday to Bicycling Magazine’s online article about the Afghan women cyclists (including Afghanistan’s National Women’s Cycling Team, the second-wave of mountain bike cyclists, and the activist Shannon Galpin).
How women and girls who had defied stereotypes to forge a new way forward by using the freedom machine we know as a bicycle were now burning their cycling evidence as well as diplomas and other signs of education, and fearing for their lives.
How we rallied around them when they inspired the world, and how they need us now.
It was my 58th birthday and I had just written a post about the failure of faith I was feeling lately. Then I read the article about the Afghan women cyclists and rode my bike, thinking about what I could possibly do right now to help. Fearing for my own life as yet another motor vehicle driver raged at me while passing, I realized yet again that this simple act of riding a bike is not so simple.
The enormity of the Afghan women’s danger is so much bigger than mine, of course, but in some small, small way we are alike. And as this photo I took at the Women’s March in 2016 says (while riding a bike without incident), we are not free until all women are. Thus, I wonder if perhaps this post might connect a few more people and maybe even inspire you to get involved. Or at least, to get ready. The women and girls are coming, and they need us. They are us.
Since some of these women and girls may end up here in Metro Atlanta in the City of Clarkston (the most diverse square mile in the USA and a major refugee relocation destination), I reached out to Hunter Ramseur at the SOPO Bike Cooperative (with whom I just communicated for this other Afghanistan/Haiti post, and who already has a refugee bike program going); Global Spokes (you met Mike Flueckiger here), and my two state senators, Senator Jon Ossoff (who seems to be leading the senatorial effort regarding Afghani evacuations) and Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (who is a cyclist).
I’m also going to reach out to all the women in the “You Go, Girl” series (which I wrote a year ago right now as part of my healing after surviving a hit-and-run while Traveling at the Speed of Bike in the place I call home) to see if they have additional ideas and resources, or if there is a way we can work together.
Here are ways to help that are suggested in the Bicycling.com article. At the bottom of this post is my little TikTok from yesterday, which has already garnered hundreds of impressions. I don’t know what good any of this will do. But I do know that doing nothing is not an option.
How You Can Help Afghan Refugees (reprinted from this Bicycling.com article)
Galpin has set up a fund to raise money to help evacuate and resettle the cyclists.
Another activist, “Quentin Quarantino,” has set up a GoFundMe to raise money to charter humanitarian evacuation flights out of Afghanistan for high-risk refugees. The average cost of these evacuation flights is $1,500 per person in U.S. dollars.
Call your state representatives and senators
Find out if your government is deporting Afghans back to Afghanistan. Tell them that your country needs to accept Afghan refugees.
“Understand that this is apolitical at this point. Pointing fingers at who did what isn’t going to help refugees. Our goal needs to be, as a country, to show compassion and live up to humanitarian values,” Galpin said.
Volunteer your time and skill sets
There are a variety of ways you can volunteer your time to help Afghans during this crisis, such as through sponsoring Afghan families and helping them get resettled in your community. Immigration and human rights lawyers are especially needed right now; if that’s you, volunteer to work pro bono. Mental health professionals are also greatly needed to help these refugees cope with the trauma they’ve experienced—and will likely continue to experience.
Amplify Afghan voices
Share stories about and from Afghans across social media.
Learn more about how to advocate for and help Afghan women here.