What We've Done so Far
There's a lot that has happened since we went live in November 2021. Here are the Highlights
It's been too long since I've posted an update; I've been in the midst of a move down to Southern California, in conjunction with starting work as and EMT to support my ambitions for a career in medicine.
Despite our relative silence, we have been anything but stagnant: In the past month, we have received our IRS tax-exemption, overhauled our fundraising mechanisms, formed a "coalition" among the other SF veterans of the other NGOs, and been in contact with the offices of two congressional representatives.
Our fundraising efforts are showing their value as well, to the tune of nearly $6,000 disbursed per month. Two Team 11 families are also coming closer to immigration; one family who have sought refuge in Pakistan has received approval and is only waiting on their physical visa. The other will be going to the Islamabad embassy in under a month for their final interview. Lastly, in a rare and unexpected happy ending, "Hank" was released last month!
The end is nowhere in sight, but our progress is real and tangible.
From the outset, my intent behind this effort was to be transparent and bring the plight of Team 11 as close to the supporter as possible. This means not only the good news, but also the bad.
Over a week ago, one of our guys was arrested by the Taliban and tortured into compromising several members who we have since sent on the run.
The full story is on our social media, but I highlight this story as an example of the impacts everyone's support has made; I'm not sure what we could have done for the Team 11 members who remain free were it not for the donations we've received.
Hey folks. I apologize for the late update. Travel, sickness and a return to MCAT studying has taken up a lot of time recently.
Anyways, It's been a HUGE 3 weeks! We've been featured on about a dozen NPR stations at the regional level, made a national appearance on Morning Edition, our petition is pushing 45,000 signees, and we recently passed our initial fundraising goal of $25,000 (when all sources are counted).
By no means are we stopping here: Team 11 is “our” guys, but there are dozens of teams and hundreds of individuals just like them. We have already begun to branch out, and now include a few members of Team 19 as aid recipients.
Please help us continue the good fight and continue spreading the word to others out there.
We are hitting 2022 hard: Since my initial message 40 days ago announcing the launch of Team 11, we have received $17,000 from over 70 donors: $4,000 of which has been sent to Afghanistan in the past two weeks.
Fathima from change.org has been instrumental in developing a petition that has gathered 30,000+ signatures- 28,000 of which have come in the past ten days. It's hard to understate what potential growth this can bring; in and of itself this petitions eclipses our previous levels of exposure.
That's not all we have in the works: in the coming days we have an NPR interview set to air. As it stands now, that interview will reach some 2 million people in the PNW. However, if the national office takes interest (which I am told there is a good chance) we might need to start thinking about expanding to include Team 19, Team 15, Team 21--- and beyond.
We are finally starting to hit our stride; we have just passed the $2,500 mark in total funds disbursed, providing aid to 87 people. 33 more are on deck to receive their aid in the next week!
On a more sobering note, the situation in Afghanistan continues its tailspin, and like any humanitarian disaster, skyrocketing prices are becoming an issue. Kabul has become too expensive for the majority of Team 11, and we have directed many to Herat in an attempt to balance the relative safety of an urban area with a financial situation that enables us to stretch our donations just a bit further.
To this end, we ask that you consider donating and sharing this program with others. Otherwise, I am not confident we can provide enough aid to last the winter.
My apologies for the slightly longer than anticipated delay. We had some issues with getting our withdrawals approved by GoFundMe (due to their intended use being overseas), but their concerns have been assuaged: we are now fully armed and operational!
Despite the lull, we managed to send out three more rounds of aid with the funds we have collected through Paypal.
We have also made significant strides in terms of growth: with nearly $13,000 in funds raised, I estimate we have that same amount tentatively pledged and waiting in the wings! Open Oceans marketing has also joined the fight, we have started a petition, and have two potential media appearances (more on that later...)
Once again, thank you!
Alright folks- we are off and moving! On Sunday and Monday we completed a food drop-off in collaboration with another non-profit, along with providing six winter coats for "Sam" and his family.
We also initiated our first two wire transfers to Sam and also "Frank". These were small amounts as we are still assessing the security situation, but we hope to pick up the pace shortly.
A huge thanks to all who have donated, as we round the corner to $9,000 in our first week!