As the United States has departed Afghanistan and the Taliban have quickly filled a power vacuum, many who strived for a more modern life are fearful that the Taliban will seek retribution. This includes those who started cycling and mountain biking in the mountainous country over the past two decades.
MTB Afghanistan is an organization founded by Afghan cyclist Farid Noori. Over the past several weeks, Noori has been trying to evacuate riders who might be at risk.
“These Afghan individuals are the true champions of the cycling movement in Afghanistan. They put themselves in front of the whole nation to fight for equal rights and invited more women to ride bikes,” reads a statement on their website.
“Now, they and their families are in danger and we must help. At this current time, it costs approximately $6K to evacuate each individual. As the deadline rapidly approaches, our flight and evacuation options decrease and costs increase.” The deadline for the US to leave Afghanistan was August 31, and the remaining service-members departed on August 30.
MTB Afghanistan is working with the Human Rights Foundation for evacuation assistance and the organization is raising funds to reach $250,000 to help 28 cyclists evacuate and resettle. So far, the organization is at almost $90,000. They say they’ve evacuated seven riders so far including the team captain.
“Now more than ever, our mission to empower young Afghans and promote peace is needed. As such, we are committed as ever to continue our efforts to serve the Afghan youth. From the onset, we knew this would be a long haul to build a cycling nation, and these events won’t affect our determination to help our people find joy, peace and pride in what serves as our beloved Afghanistan’s foremost backbone: its nature.”