Since the last military flight out of Kabul and the Khider District Massacre, both events occurring on 30 August 2021, Chapman and Pritchard have co-authored numerous heartbreaking stories about Afghans in peril.
Shona ba Shona (translation: shoulder to shoulder) is an organization of Military Senior Leaders, SOF Operators, Senior Executives, Thought Leaders in Media and Academia, and International Law Experts. Our present focus is the humanitarian disaster in Afghanistan. Many of us received protection and endured hardships with our Afghan friends. We understand the process to successfully integrate people from an environment of peril to an environment of safety. Members of our board have assisted in successful refugee relocation from places like Vietnam, Somalia, and Iraq.
We direct both material and personnel support where it’s needed most. We provide a direct conduit of information flowing from the ground to the highest levels of our country’s executives and to the executive branches of our allies. We share information, best practices, and cross level knowledge with all organizations with similar goals. Winter is coming, both figuratively and literally, and Shona ba Shona will provide humanitarian aid to the people of Afghanistan. In this capacity, we will share with you stories of the beautiful people of Afghanistan many of us have known for almost two decades
This is the story of three families:
In the States on the east coast, we wake at 4:30 to the constant thrum of messages coming across our phones. While messages come all night long, 4:30 rings out like the start of a horse race. The gates open and the sprint through the day commences. The time zone differences are brutal. Kabul, Afghanistan is 8.5 hours ahead of EST in the States. It’s 4:30am EST, and Afghans in peril seek food, safe shelter to stay ahead of the Taliban, and medical care before their day ends and curfew begins. It’s three hours until the sun comes up in the States and four hours until the sun goes down in Kabul.
The Ahmadi (name changed) family had a nice life. Married for ten years, Rafay worked as an accountant for a private company funded by the U.S. Department of State, and his wife worked as an interpreter. They had a house, two cars and three young children. When the Afghan Government fell to the Taliban, Rafay lost his job and his medical identity was in the State biometric system making it easy for the Taliban to track him if he attempted to travel. Within a week, the Taliban came to the Ahmadi house. They took the cars, smashed the furniture and windows, and lit the house on fire. The Ahmadi’s had left two days prior, and moved into hiding with friends. Their bank accounts seized, a former work associate demanded Rafay do accounting work on the side for free via computer. If Rafay didn’t do the work, the former work associate said he would tell the Taliban where Rafay’s parents lived. Yesterday, Rafay Ahmadi texted they were out of food and could no longer leave the house.
The Khan (name changed) family is a large one. Saimal and his wife raised two boys and a daughter. All received formal education. Saimal worked as training manager for Raytheon, an American company, which manufactures Black Hawk helicopters. His two boys became journalists and married, and his daughter became a teacher. They lived within several miles of each other and enjoyed weekly family get togethers - three generations of the Khan family living a good life. The day the President of Afghanistan fled the country in a helicopter full of cash and cars, Saimal and his two sons went to their local bank to clear out their accounts. The Taliban surrounded the bank and fired shots down the street towards Saimal and his boys. They ran. The Taliban searched for all members of the Khan family. In Afghanistan, the entire family is held responsible for the sins of one. With the father working for Raytheon, the two boys having reported as journalists on the Taliban, and the daughter teaching in a local school, the Taliban marked the Khan family for execution. They fled and live in a house belonging to a distant relative under a fake name and pray for evacuation. Yesterday, they called and said they could no longer go outside because a neighbor had been watching them and asking questions. They had food for only one more day.
Zohra (name changed) grew up in a small family with two brothers. One of her brothers had two children and his wife died from endometritis. Several years later, her brother remarried, and there were problems with the stepmother. Zohra volunteered to care for his two boys with assistance from her parents. Sadly, her parents died from chronic medical issues within two years of each other while she completed her graduate degree in business administration. A single mother, technically a single aunt, Zohra started her own food packaging business growing it to over a hundred employees and marketed it with a culinary magazine with favorite recipes and local stories. Her other brother became the Chief Financial Officer, and business flourished until the second week of August 2021 when the Taliban burned her office and fired rocket propelled grenades into her plant killing her brother and several workers. Zohra fled with her two nephews and moved into one room of a distant cousin’s unoccupied house. There is no power, and they have not been outside in more than two months. A neighbor, who was bringing them food and charging Zohra’s phone, disappeared two days ago. Yesterday, Zohra texted that she and her nephews had run out of food.
Three families without food, without money, without hope for evacuation, and going into a dark and desolate winter where people burn feces for heat when the wood runs out. Maybe by a miracle, or maybe by the miracle of many people working tirelessly behind the scenes thousands of miles away, these three families woke to food at their front door. If it sounds implausible, it’s not. It’s just Wednesday morning in the States, and the day is just getting started.
Help Feed the Starving in Afghanistan. Help Shona ba Shona.
Scott Chapman is an independent journalist, author, former Army Ranger, OGA Blackwater contractor, entrepreneur, husband, dog lover, and astrophysics scholar. Scott is the co-founder of the Afghan Medical Corps and can be reached at Scott@ScottChapmanAuthor.com
Russ Pritchard is an independent journalist, professional writer, former Chief Marketing Officer, flight medic, triathlete, husband, father, and grandfather. Russ is the co-founder of the Afghan Medical Corps and can be reached at RussPritchard@Protonmail.com