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    Afghan Women Receive Scholarships to U.S. Universities

    Afghan Women Have a Town Hall Meeting with Asian University for Women President

    Photo By Sgt. Caitlin Wilkins | Dr. Kamal Ahmad, president of Asian University for Women, answers questions women had...... read more read more



    Story by Pfc. Caitlin Wilkins 

    Operation Allies Welcome - Operation Allies Refuge   

    FORT McCOY, Wis. -- After two near escapes, nearly 150 Afghan women were successfully evacuated out of Kabul, Afghanistan, at the end of August and arrived at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, to begin the resettlement process as part of Operation Allies Welcome.

    The women, who were all students at the Asian University for Women in Bangladesh prior to evacuating, were provisionally accepted into American universities with full scholarships.

    Dr. Kamal Ahmad, the President of Asian University for Women in Bangladesh, visited the women here to confirm the award of scholarships by U.S. academic institutions and to answer questions about their integration into American universities.

    “You’re all in this extraordinary position to pursue an education at some of the best institutions in this country,” said Ahmad during a town hall at Fort McCoy. “You will have a great education and life. I also want to say for your own personal life, you have an opportunity for reflection of just how fortunate you are, indeed with all your friends and others. You’re still alive; you made it.”

    The Department of State lead at Fort McCoy, Holly Kirking Loomis, a Sparta, Wisconsin, native, also spoke with women during the town hall about one day using this opportunity as a way to help those who were not able to evacuate from Afghanistan.

    “I also want you to know that each of us in this room have your families in our hearts as you look to the future,” explained Kirking Loomins. “We know that your hearts are also at home. I suspect that one day, maybe 10-to-20 years from now, you will take this service and will take the commitment, perseverance, and leadership you have shown through this journey, and you will use it in the service of the people who are not here. Fellow Afghans who are left behind, who will be beneficiaries of the work that you’ll do in your life in your projects here in the United States and beyond.”

    Kirking Loomis also thanked the service members who helped build the living area at Fort McCoy area with limited notice, and the Afghan women who shared their stories as they adjust to life in America.

    “I want to tell you that I have never been more patriotic and prouder than standing next to my civilian and military American colleagues who built this infrastructure and welcomed you to a city of 13,000 in days,” said Kirking Loomis. “Thank you for sharing your journeys with us one by one.”

    The women have been completing their initial immigration paperwork while at Fort McCoy. Once they complete the process, they’ll leave for their new university.

    “Our university tried to find us full scholarships, so now about 150 students are being placed in nine different universities in the United States, and after we depart from the camp, we’ll be going to our universities,” said an Afghan woman.

    The women were studying in Bangladesh at the Asian University for Women until COVID-19 required them to go back to Afghanistan and study virtually. When things in Afghanistan worsened, Ahmad arranged a charter flight to bring the women back to Bangladesh so they could continue their studies.

    “When we were going to the airport the first time, all seven buses were sent back home,” explained an Afghan woman. “The Taliban did not allow us to enter the airport, so we missed our charter flight.”

    The group made two more attempts to enter the airport, and with support from the U.S. military and Asian University for Women, they were successful on the third attempt.

    “The next time we tried, we were in the buses for 48 hours roaming around all the streets of Kabul trying to get entry to the airport, but unfortunately we couldn’t make it,” explained an Afghan woman. “Either we will enter the airport or we will stay in Afghanistan forever, so that’s why we wanted to try for a third time.”

    Despite knowing how dangerous the trip could be, the women decided to try one last time in an attempt to evacuate Afghanistan. After many hours of waiting, they were allowed inside the airport with help from the U.S. military.

    “We were so lucky after waiting so many hours inside the buses in a very dangerous situation,” explained an Afghan woman. “We were all women with no male family members with us.”

    Once the group entered the airport, they were evacuated by the U.S. military to Saudi Arabia, and then brought to Fort McCoy as part of Operation Allies Welcome. Since continuing their education in Bangladesh wasn’t an option anymore, Asian University for Women coordinated with American colleges and universities to accept women onto their campuses.

    “I’m very excited because getting a full scholarship in the United States was one of my dreams,” explained an Afghan woman. “When I was studying at Asian University for Women in Bangladesh, I was always thinking that one day by studying hard I will get a scholarship for my masters, I will go to the USA and I’ll study there. Fortunately, now my dream came true. I’m so lucky.”

    During the town hall meeting, Ahmad also spoke with the women about their bravery and commitment to their fellow Afghans, and how proud he was to see them in the meeting.

    “You hear about leaders,” said Ahmad. “You are all leaders in some way and given the pressures of what you experienced in Kabul as you fled the Taliban, you attended to the needs of your fellow Afghans; you rose to that occasion and I’m so glad to see you here and so proud of each and every one of you.”



    Date Taken: 09.27.2021
    Date Posted: 11.04.2021 12:58
    Story ID: 408691
    Location: FORT MCCOY, WI, US

    Web Views: 780
    Downloads: 0