SOZO TEAM MEMBER HIGHLIGHT:
Abdul Wakil Sahibudin, Director of International Operations
Q: Wakil, how long have you been involved with Sozo (history, timeline, etc.)
W: I’ve been with Sozo since day one – since 2003. Before that, I worked with other humanitarian organizations serving Afghans in Pakistan and Afghanistan. I’m the Director of International Operations [for Sozo] and oversee all Afghanistan-based programming and staff, as well as short and long-term teams who visit.
Q. Can you share a bit of your story?
W: My family fled Afghanistan when I was 8 years old, in 1984, during the Russian war. We went to Pakistan where we lived in a refugee camp. I returned to Afghanistan in 2002, once a government was re-established.
Q. What is your dream for the Afghan people?
W: Growing up in the refugee camp and then working with Afghans as an adult, I always remember how dusty the refugee kids were. I didn’t think that was right – kids should have fun and not have such hard lives. I dream that all children in Afghanistan could go to school and that the Afghan people can live free lives, not be scared or hungry.
Q. What is the biggest challenge Sozo faces?
W: The current political environment and unstable security situation is the biggest challenge we have. This makes it hard to have access to the people, because things aren’t stable and people are scared. Also, the climate and harsh weather conditions have the most impact on our kids. They have a hard time making it to school when there are extreme weather conditions (either hot or cold).
Q. What do you wish people knew about Afghanistan or Afghans?
W: I wish the world knew the real Afghan people – our care and that Afghans are famous for their hospitability. I wish they knew how Afghans will sacrifice for a guest or someone they love. Afghans have been used by different groups and that’s given us a bad name. I wish the world knew how hard life has been for Afghans for the past 40 years.
Q. What is your biggest goal for Sozo?
W: There are so many street-working children in Afghanistan. My goal is that we can have them all in school. I also have a goal that women and those with disabilities have access to opportunities that maybe Sozo can provide. They deserve an education, a good life and to live in peace.
Q. Who has inspired you in your life and why?
W: Len Stitt, a leader and friend I worked with in Pakistan and Afghanistan. I admire his heart for the Afghan people, his courage and his care.