By Neelima Grover, QED Founder and CEO
Thirteen years ago, as QED embarked on its first engagement in Afghanistan, our team was filled with optimism at the prospect of supporting the country’s transition from brutal, authoritarian rule to a nascent democracy that supported equal rights for all citizens.
It was a challenge from the beginning, fraught with lessons learned the hard way – and it was part of our job to monitor and evaluate US government programs so that these programs could improve over time and achieve the intended impact.
The events of this week have been devastating for the entire country, but especially for its most vulnerable: minorities, disabled people, and women and girls. Our hearts ache for these groups, who deserve equity but are unlikely to receive it under a return to the Taliban’s strict interpretation of Sharia law.
In Afghanistan and elsewhere, it can be easy to be overwhelmed by the challenges of working in international development, and to let these doubts paralyze us into inaction. It is important we carry on, with courage and wisdom, to support fragile countries and their citizens.
In this defiantly hopeful spirit, here are the actions we’re taking – we encourage you to do the same:
- Supporting Special Immigrant Visas (SIV) for our Afghan colleagues. So far, we’ve supported SIVs for four contractors/employees who worked alongside us in our pursuit of a more equitable and democratic Afghanistan. We intend to further support any additional eligible applicants to the best of our ability. If you previously worked with QED and need assistance obtaining a SIV, please reach out to Tom Dawson, Director of Finance and Operations, directly.
- Asking others to do the same. You can join the call to fulfill our obligations to Afghan citizens who courageously assisted US government operations over the last twenty years by signing one or more petitions and contacting your lawmakers; some examples include:
- Supporting the Afghan institutions and organizations that already assist Afghan citizens, particularly civil service organizations based in country. Funding and assisting the organizations working on the ground to materially benefit Afghan citizens should be the centerpiece of US government work moving forward and it is the best chance to prevent backsliding away from democracy and equity.
- Supporting refugees who arrive in the US and other countries in the weeks and months ahead. They deserve our warmest welcome, along with material support. There are various ways to do this, from volunteering to donating to urging government action.
Key Resources for SIV applicants:
If you’re a SIV-eligible former QED contractor or employee, we are ready to assist in the application process and help with safe evacuation in whatever way we can. Please reach out to Tom Dawson, Director of Finance and Operations, directly.
If you’re a SIV-eligible former contractor or employee who worked with another USAID partner, the following resources are available to you:
- DoS SIV Hotline: 1-888-407-4747. Alternate number: 202-501-4444. While the line is currently overwhelmed with calls, additional staff are being recruited to process high call volumes. DoS will contact SIV applicants who are eligible for evacuation via text, informing them they should make their way to HKIA, if possible.
- Contact information for other USAID contractors, for assistance with SIV processing:
- Deloitte: Contact this email address for SIV recommendations or HR letters: usdeloitteafghanSIV@deloitte.com
- Chemonics: Individuals who have worked with Chemonics International in Afghanistan can use the following emails for inquiries:
- DAI: If your loved ones or connections worked for DAI Global, LLC in Afghanistan, please email your materials to SIV@dai.com Note that the incoming requests are overwhelming; duplicative requests are slowing the process down.
- ARD/Tetra-Tech: ARDEmploymentVerificationRequests@tetratech.com
- Blumont/IRD: If you worked for Blumont or IRD in Afghanistan and need information for the special immigration visa (SIV) or P-2 visa, contact voe@Blumont.org.
- MSH: If you worked for MSH between 2001 and today and need assistance or information on the SIV or U.S. Refugee Admissions Program Priority 2 Designation for Afghan Nationals please email email@example.com.