In the midst of the crisis in Afghanistan, Open Doors has been working hard to support Afghan refugee youth in Central Asia.
Bringing Joy through Football
Thanks to the initiative of one of Open Doors’ local partners, a club was set up to bring joy to young girls who had fled Afghanistan when the Taliban regained power in 2021.
The club meets five times a week on an Astro turf pitch, where around 40 girls run off energy, laugh, and build relationships with one another. But it’s not just the girls who are benefitting from this project—over 100 boys are also participating.
The situation for Afghan refugees in Central Asia is dire, as governments in the region do not officially recognise their presence and do not provide the necessary social support. This lack of support has led to alarming rates of depression and suicidal thoughts among refugee children.
However, through the simple act of playing football together, these young refugees are able to feel a sense of normalcy and joy in their lives once again. .
Creating Community and Sharing Jesus
But the project goes beyond just football. The project has been a source of hope in so many ways. There have been opportunities to run weekly Bible study groups and hold house church for those who want to go.
By engaging with the refugee children, Open Doors partners have been able to build trust with their parents and provide practical support, including food packages, clothing, blankets, and hygiene items. In addition, assistance is provided for medical needs. As they cannot work, and their children are not allowed to go to school, things are extremely difficult.
“We help with food packages. These food packages help a lot of refugees survive. In addition, we distribute the necessary clothes, blankets, and hygiene items. We also provide assistance for some cases with medical needs.”
The Situation for Afghan Refugees: As It Stands
Thousands of refugees are in limbo in Central Asia. They do not have enough money to move on, and because of the haste in which they left Afghanistan, they do not have their legal papers. Help is being extended to Christians who have converted from Islam but also to Muslim refugees who are now able to hear the gospel. Many have given their lives to Jesus and want to be baptised.
The practical vision is for a football academy for all who want to come; the spiritual goal is that they will see and feel the love of Christ.
Open Doors’ work with Afghan refugee youth in Central Asia is a source of hope in the midst of a crisis. The project is providing not only practical help, but also emotional and spiritual support, giving these young refugees a chance to rebuild their lives and find hope for the future.