Ways For Texas Higher Education to Support Afghan Evacuees

by Robin J. Lerner

The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan has been on the minds of many higher education leaders in Texas. I have heard from some members of their struggles to contact their alumni still in-country, others are focused on providing programs for those who successfully evacuated and are bound for the U.S.

We at TIEC feel the same way, and stand ready to support high-risk evacuees. The TIEC board of directors is currently advising me on how best to do that, and I hope to have an announcement about this soon. On a personal level, I am so heartened that the higher education community in Texas is ready to support evacuees. While the absolute numbers of Afghanistani alumni of Texas higher education institutions may not be great, it is clear that the Afghan people who have spent time here have made a lasting impression.

I can attest to Afghanistan’s canny ability to seep into one’s soul. Before I joined TIEC in 2017, I spent much of my career working in the United States Senate and the U.S. Department of State focusing on global women’s issues. During those years, Afghanistan played a central role for me. I recall one of my trips to Afghanistan where I joined fellow Senate staffers and the then-Ambassador-at-large for Global Women’s Issues to observe the implementation of U.S.-funded programs for women, and to hear what life was like on the ground. I was incredibly fortunate to meet and spend time with strong and committed Afghanistani women advocates, civil society leaders, politicians, and civil servants. These women knew they were simultaneously making history and creating a future for their country. They knew the profundity of their role.

As I watched the final U.S. military plane depart Kabul, those women — and many others — were on my mind and in the hearts of many Texans. With that final departure, now is the moment for collaboration, cooperation, and action. Luckily, those are three of TIEC’s strongest attributes. While I am not quite ready yet to announce the details of our program, the need is enormous and I see no reason for anyone to wait. If you are wondering what you can do to help immediately, I have listed a number of options below that are vetted by the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council.  Please also stay in touch with TIEC, and we will make our announcement soon. This effort will mean breaking new ground as an organization and will be looking for partners along the way.

Ways to Help:

Efforts From Members of The U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council: 

Refugee/Asylee/Resettlement Resources:

  • Alliance for Peacebuilding compiled resources on helping Afghan refugees in the US and fundraising opportunities to address the humanitarian crisis in-country here.

  • The American Immigration Lawyers Association has extensive resources for assisting Afghans eligible for SIVs/P1/P2/parole. Learn more here.

  • Women for Afghan Women has compiled resources in a live document that is being updated with resources to help Afghan refugees here

  •  Afghan Diaspora Hub, an Afghan-American volunteer organization, compiled resources on helping Afghan refugees in the US and organized them by city and state here.

  • To find refugee resettlement agencies in your area for opportunities to help Afghan refugees, visit the Office of Refugee Resettlement here and Refugee Council USA here.

  • Airbnb is waiving fees for Airbnb hosts to provide free or discounted stays for Afghan refugees as well as taking donations to support housing for Afghan refugees here.

  •  Find volunteer opportunities with the International Rescue Committee here.

  • Church World Service staff have been deployed to designated military bases to assist with processing of incoming Afghan refugees. Donate here.

  • Volunteer with or donate to Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS) here.

  • Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) has compiled a list of resources and is seeking volunteers and donations here.

  • U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants has compiled resource lists and other information relevant to Afghan refugees in Dari, Pashto, and English here.·         World Relief’s volunteer opportunities to support Afghan refugees can be found here.1

  • Human Rights First launched a rapid response fund for US allies, human rights defenders, and at-risk Afghans. Donate here.

Support for Immigration/Resettlement:

  • Catholic Charities USA Providing services including legal assistance, translation, and childcare for Afghan refugees settling through the Special Immigrant Visa program.

  • International Rescue Committee The International Rescue Committee helps people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover, and regain control of their future.

  • Jesuit Refugee Services JRS seeks to accompany, serve, and advocate the cause of refugees and other forcibly displaced people, that they may heal, learn, and determine their own future.

  • Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service The Neighbors in Need: Afghan Allies Fund provides food, housing assistance, clothing, and other basic needs for Afghans as they await the official services available to them.

  • World Relief Donations are used to promote peace and justice in violence-stricken regions like Afghanistan.

Support for Afghan Women:

  • Razia’s Ray of Hope Foundation Founded by Razia Jan, the organization is dedicated to expanding the possibilities for girls and young women in Afghanistan and is raising funds for school expenses, including expanded enrollment for new students whose families have been displaced to the region, and funding for the staff, students, and families affected by ongoing instability.

  • Protect Afghan Women Donations will help the evacuation of at-risk women activists, journalists, politicians, peacebuilders, and their families and provide support so that they can be resettled with dignity.

  • Learn Afghan Funds are going toward assisting internally displaced individuals to ensure that these families have access to basic necessities. The org’s founder has committed to remaining in the country to support women’s education.

  • Also, there is a list of local resettlement agencies listed in a helpful map here


Robin J. Lerner, Esq., assumed the role of President and CEO of the Texas International Education Consortium (TIEC) on September 5, 2017. Prior to this position, Ms. Lerner held leadership roles at the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Global Women’s Issues, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, and the Bureau of Legislative Affairs. Ms. Lerner also served at U.S embassies Cairo and Baghdad. Ms. Lerner was a senior counsel on the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and spent some years posted in post-conflict operations throughout the Balkans for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. When not working, Ms. Lerner enjoys spending as much time as possible with her husband — a middle and high school STEM educator — and their two daughters.


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