We Need Your Help: Afghan Refugee Persecuted for Sharing the Practice of Yoga

Having caught the attention of the Taliban after founding Afghanistan’s first yoga studio for women, Fakhria is now seeking asylum and needs help. Continue reading to learn more about her story and the immediate ways you can take action to support Fakhria and her family.

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Over the past year, Yoga Alliance and its Foundation have connected with people and organizations around the world who teach yoga within refugee communities. We have been asked by humanitarian aid groups to expand this work. And, we have worked directly with yoga teachers who live as refugees, supporting them as they share the practice with others who have endured forced migration.

As part of this work, we have been fortunate to meet Fakhria Momtaz, who founded Afghanistan’s first yoga studio for women. She has focused her life on providing yoga practices, yoga therapy, meditation, and other wellness services for Afghan women – even amidst threats from the Taliban who opposed her work. When the Taliban took over Afghanistan in August 2021, Fakhria fled to Pakistan, and since then she has searched tirelessly for asylum – seeking a place where she and her family can live safely, and she can share the practice of yoga free from persecution.

After a long and challenging pursuit, Fakhria has finally found a pathway to asylum in Canada…and now we need hands-on help from the yoga community to make it happen. Thanks to a locally-based resettlement group, Fakhria and her family are on track to resettle in Vancouver in the fall of 2023 (exact date TBD), and Yoga Alliance is tasked with finding volunteers to assist with their arrival and transition.

We need volunteers in the Vancouver area to assist* with one or more of the following tasks:

• Coordinating local volunteer support

• Helping search for / set up housing

• Connecting the family with local support services / community resources

• Showing the family around the area / familiarizing them with public transportation

• Serving as a “welcome buddy” that provides social support

*Resettlement volunteers are NOT responsible for costs associated with responsibilities above.

Serving as a resettlement volunteer is a responsibility AND an incredible opportunity to embody seva (service). It will also make it possible for this family to begin its life anew in Canada, following a long and traumatic period of uncertainty.

If you have ever reflected on crises and suffering around the world, wishing you could do something to help, THIS is a moment when you can contribute directly to a solution and make a life-changing difference for Fakhria and her family.

If you are interested in supporting or would like more information, please fill out this form.

Learn more about Fakhria, her pioneering work, and her pursuit of asylum in Vancouver:

Story update: We are excited to share that as of August 2023, Fakhria and her family received asylum in Canada, and the local yoga community in the area is assisting with their resettlement. We are humbled by the overwhelming response from this community. Your efforts are recognized and celebrated – thank you.