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I am always inspired when people hear about Refugees International's
work for the first time. Last night, Ambassador Said Jawad and his wife
Shamim hosted a group of some 100 influential supporters and new
friends of Refugees International at the Embassy of Afghanistan. They were
there to learn about our recent mission to Afghanistan and the latest
work we are doing to improve the lives of Afghan refugees.
"We met with thirty families in Kabul who had fled from a neighboring province," Advocate Patrick Duplat told the room. "One family told me that they had been given shelter, but the father couldn't find a job. His children were begging for bread - it was the only way to survive."
As Patrick finished that sentence, I heard an audible gasp and murmur from someone standing near me. At that moment, the person understood why Refugees International is here. When we're producing reports, calling on Congress to increase assistance, or conducting media interviews to expose a neglected crisis, we are doing this for that family and the millions like them around the world.
Patrick Duplat's story illustrates the challenges facing Afghanistan today. Some five million refugees have returned home and are struggling to rebuild their lives. Yet, Patrick noted that he was encouraged to see Secretary of State Clinton call for aid to be more efficient.
"It's not just about building roads and telephone towers," he added. "Afghans need basic assistance."
As RI's president Ken Bacon told the room, "In the midst of everything the U.S. does in Afghanistan, we have to keep our eye on the humanitarian needs of the people - education, water, medical care, food, agriculture."
Refugees International and our supporters are shining a spotlight on those needs. Even more importantly, we are talking directly to policy makers to promote solutions to the world's largest refugee crises. Inspiring new people to support our cause is essential to improving the lives of refugees around the world.
Refugees International is thankful to Ambassador and Mrs. Jawad for hosting the gathering. Mariella and Michael Trager, co-chairs of our upcoming 30th Anniversary Gala, and all of the members of the Honorary Committee and Benefit Committee of the dinner also helped make last night possible. We are grateful for their commitment to our work.