The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan on 15 August 2021 has forced thousands of people to flee in an attempt to find a new home. Qatar has since then taken on a crucial role in the evacuation process of Afghan citizens, students, foreign diplomats, and journalists.
Ever since the news broke out that many Afghans were brought out on evacuation flights and are taking refuge in Qatar, the people here have found ways on how they can help.
Among a number of residents who have led donation drives is American expatriate Ashley Brantley. Let's get to know her and find out why Afghan people are close to her heart!
Ashley: My name is Ashley Brantley. I am from a very small agricultural town in California called Tulare. I served in the United States Navy for 6 years as an Air Traffic Controller. I am an Air Traffic Control Officer here at Hamad International Airport. I'm in charge of the safe and expeditious flow of air traffic. I keep flights separated in the air from takeoff to landing.
I spent 3 years in Afghanistan training the locals on air traffic control. Afghanistan provided me with the licensing required to work for the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority which was my ultimate career goal. Doha has been my second home for two years now.
Ashley: I went to Afghanistan on my own will after being honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy. It was very eye-opening. I went there with not many expectations and I left with many friends and life experiences. I met some of the most generous people in my life. People who are willing to give you everything even if they don’t have much. People who just want better for their country.
Ashley: I think it is awful. There is fear and anxiety for the many people left behind in Afghanistan. What’s happening now brings back so many memories of my time there. And this is why the evacuation of Afghan people here and the donation drive are super close to my heart.
Ashley: I was receiving very disturbing messages from my Afghan friends that were there in Afghanistan during the takeover and I felt so helpless as I could not do anything to help since I am here in Qatar.
So, when the US and the Qatari government started the evacuation process and the Afghan people started to evacuate here, I saw an opportunity to help them in my own little way as they began a new journey. I knew I needed to do something, and that is when I started collecting the donations to be delivered to the refugees. I decided to start doing a collection of hygiene items and clothing.
Ashley: It really surprised me how quickly the community here came together to help those in a time of need. I have a lot of really amazing friends here that have a good social media following and they helped me via Instagram to spread the word of what I was doing. The community response exceeded all of my expectations. They stepped up and changed so many lives along the way.
Ashley: I was able to secure permits and authorization for delivery trucks that would get the aid into the airbase. I cannot name these wonderful people at this time, but there are many of them who are helping and I can't thank them all enough for their generous hearts.
Ashley: The people of Qatar are absolutely amazing! They are more than welcome to reach out and I can guide them where and what to donate. They can send messages to me on my Instagram account and I am more than happy to help them donate.
Also, I suggest that they check out a post from H.E. Sheikha Hind and Qatar Foundation Donation Drive. The post mentions the items needed and the drop-off location, plus people can also volunteer to collect and sort items for donation.
Ashley: Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I can't say thank you enough! This has all been so close to my heart as I have such an emotional connection to the people of Afghanistan. You all helped change lives and I could not be more proud to call Qatar my home! You all are incredible people with the best hearts.
RELATED: How is the Qatar community helping Afghan refugees and how you can donate
Cover image credit: Ashley Brantley
Did you find Ashley's journey and initiative amazing? Do you know of someone who’s got an exceptional talent or is making a difference in our Qatar community? Drop us a line in the comments below and you could see them highlighted in the next Qommunity Voices!
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