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Riverside Non-Profit Helping Afghans Build a New Life in the Inland Empire

Dr. Selin Nielsen of Glocally Connected posing with a group of Afghan women the non-profit has helped support.
Dr. Selin Nielsen
Glocally Connected
Dr. Selin Nielsen of Glocally Connected posing with a group of Afghan women the non-profit has helped support.

Earlier this week, the U.S. officially withdrew from Afghanistan after being present for nearly 20-years. While the U.S. has left, there are still thousands trying to flee the county.

Glocally Connected is a Riverside-based non-profit trying to do its part to help. The organization has been working around the clock to help get people out of Afghanistan.

Dr. Selin Nielsen is the President of Glocally Connected. She told me about the situation in Afghanistan, saying, "It’s chaos, I’m afraid, and I fear for these people's lives, and I fear. But it’s so hard to get to someone who will definitely do something about it.”

Dr. Selin Nielsen
Dr. Selin Nielsen, President of Glocally Connected, holding up a "Refugees are welcome here" sign.

She added, “People that are trying to flee from Afghanistan are not different people; they’re just human beings who live like you and me. Their biggest concern is [being] productive members of society or to raise their children the best way they can.”

Nielsen says many of the individuals they’ve tried to help were U.S. citizens or have family living here in the Inland Empire. She says they succeeded in helping more than 30 people leave the country. Even though the U.S. has withdrawn its forces and suspended flights from Afghanistan, she’s still hopeful other people will find a way out.

Nielsen told me, "I’ve also heard this in the news; they’re trying to negotiate with [the] Taliban to allow people who can get out of the country to get out. We don’t know if it’s going to happen or not.”

Among her chief concerns for those still in Afghanistan and what will happen to women in the country? The Taliban has vowed to respect women’s rights, but she’s doubtful, saying, “The same thing happened in the ’90s, they had these promises of, yeah, we’ll give women’s rights we are different. But it’s not different, and they’re not going to give the rights.”

The focus of Glocally Connected will turn to helping the evacuees arriving in the Riverside area. Nielsen said, “Our role is going to be more taking care of the refugees that arrive here and getting them acclimated, integrated into the society.”

The group provides English classes, citizenship training, mental health and trauma workshops, and job searching services. They also offer items like food, school supplies, diapers, and much more.

Dr. Nielsen expects people will begin arriving in the coming weeks and wants to make sure they feel welcomed in their new home. 

If you'd like to donate to Glocally Connected, you can go to their website at GlocallyConnected.org.

Jonathan Linden was a reporter at 91.9 KVCR in San Bernardino, California. He joined KVCR in July 2021 and served with the station till October 2022.