HEALTH SECRETARY Sajid Javid’s daughters are taking part in a run to raise money for the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.
The country has descended into chaos in recent days as the Taliban seized control of the government, almost two decades after they were expelled by a US-led coalition. Following the takeover, thousands of people have attempted to flee and take refuge in countries such as the UK.
In response to the crisis, Sophia Javid and her younger sister Rania are raising funds for UNHCR’s (UN Refugee Agency) Afghanistan Appeal. The money will help to provide emergency shelter, clean water, food, and medicine for families affected by the crisis.
The sisters plan to take part in a 10k run at an organised charity event in London next month. They told Eastern Eye on Tuesday (24) they were “horrified” at what was happening in Afghanistan.
“It’s really provoked anger within me, but also a desperation to act,” 18-year-old Rania said. “All I could think about were all the families and individuals being forced to flee their homeland and search for safety. And I thought, why don’t I support UNHCR and help these refugees, and provide them with lifesaving supplies and the support they need?”
Sophia, 22, said it was hard not to feel moved by the crisis, especially seeing the impact it had on children and women.
There have been numerous reports of women and girls being stopped from attending work and school in recent weeks and fears of the oppression they may face under a Taliban-led government. Numerous rights groups have expressed concern that women’s freedoms could be eroded under the rule of the Islamist group.
“Given that I have the freedom that many (Afghans) are probably wishing for, I thought I would use it to their advantage,” Sophia said.
As Eastern Eye went to press on Tuesday, Rania and Sophia had raised more than £9,700. Due to surge in donations, the girls had to alter their target three times. Their current aim is to raise £15,000.
“We were really shocked by the donations we received,” Rania said. “It just shows how simple acts can actually make a huge difference and how doing simple fundraising events (such as ours) can contribute a lot to UNHCR.”
Both Rania and Sophia have been keeping up with the latest developments in the news. Although Rania said the events have been “difficult to watch”, she said people should keep themselves updated so they “get a sense of the urgency of the ongoing issue”.
Sophia said she had been struck by the images of refugees trying to escape. “I believe refugees are the most inspiring and important people,” she said. “They’ve had their lives taken from them, they’ve lost their family, they’ve had to witness acts of violence, but they’re survivors, and they have resilience. They give the world inspiration.”
The charity run is due to take place on September 19. Although both sisters admitted they are not experienced runners, the pair have already begun to prepare for the event.
“We actually aren’t really great at running,” Sophia laughed. “But we are really working hard for these donations, and we’ve really wanted to challenge ourselves. Rania has started practising and she managed to do a 2k the other day!”
Rania hopes that others may feel encouraged to set up their own charity efforts. “If you’re a young person, and you’re looking for something to do to help and contribute, I would really recommend organising a fundraising event and you’ll raise more money than you think,” she said. “It is a very powerful thing to do.”
To donate, see: justgiving.com/fundraising/rania-sophia