On 15 August 2021, the Taliban swept into Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul and since then many people have fled the country. Qatar has since then actively taken part in the evacuation efforts. The Qatar Amiri Air Force has also safely evacuated Afghan citizens, students, foreign diplomats, and journalists from Afghanistan. The government of Qatar has said that it will spare no effort to support the Afghan people through diplomacy, dialogue, and aid.
Ever since the news broke out, the people in Qatar have been actively looking for ways to help.
The ILoveQatar.net (ILQ) team noticed Qatar resident Rio Bello, who was one of the people using social media to spread the word and collect donations from the community members to help the Afghan refugees, especially the children.
Read more to find out about Rio’s ‘Nation Drive’ and how you can also contribute by donating essentials.
Rio: Being a mother myself, the situation of the children was what struck me most. I couldn't imagine the emotional and mental trauma they are in. We decided to take action and help these children in any way we could, at the very least by bringing toys and books to help uplift the mood and distract them from what's happening around them.
Rio: My friend in the US military, Roman, was the one to initiate, with the approval of his superiors, and has been helping us manage to get the donations to the camp where his team has helped with the sorting.
Rio: We have the US military personnel sending us lists of what is required inside the camp, and we reach out to the Qatar community for donations. The community in Qatar and private companies have been very supportive and helpful with the donation drive and in spreading the word. And at the moment, I have 2 volunteers- Ems and Jackie helping me with logistics, sorting, and packing.
Rio: The first batch was mostly toys, but there were also books, children's and adults' clothes, baby essentials, and some toiletries as well. We prioritized the children's well-being.
Rio: Since I didn't have a lot of followers on social media, it was a bit difficult at first, but I felt I had to do something to be able to help. So I posted a story and tagged all the top influencers in hopes that one of them would take notice. Mr. Khalifa Al Haroon (Mr. Q) was the first to re-post it, and it blew up from there, getting reposted by more and more people. I never expected to receive so many messages and calls.
The community has been amazing from the start; they are the real reason this all became possible - from reposting and spreading the word, to donating, and even volunteering. I also had huge backing from my company Seashore Recycling, which is a big supporter of charitable activities. They also allowed me to use the office as a drop-off for the donations and are also helping fund the other necessities that are needed.
Rio: At the moment they need toiletries- soap, shampoo, sanitary pads, toothbrush, toothpaste, men's clothes, underwear, and socks. The babies need diapers, baby formula, pureed food in jars, and baby wipes.
Rio: We are in need of a bigger place to sort and pack things as we have been doing it only in my office reception area at the moment. We also need volunteers who are willing to help us pick up some donations, do the sorting, and pack it in the boxes.
Rio: They can send us a message through WhatsApp on +974 5564 9096.
Rio: Yes, anyone can donate but please understand that we need to control the donations coming in, so we can’t accommodate everyone. And the US military sends a list of what the refugees need at the camp so we are only allowed to take those donations inside, one batch at a time.
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