My heart breaks for the people, I loved living in Afghanistan, they are the most wonderful, flexible, and compassionate people I have ever met and I feel that it is my duty to help with everything I can for what I ever received from them, Debby said.
Who would think that in the Historic Center of Mazatlán there is a woman who worries that Afghans who do not want to live under the control of the Taliban regime may leave their country?
But it’s not like that. In the Historic Center, almost upon reaching Olas Altas, there is a woman who, while running a beauty salon, is devising how to help Afghans cope with their situation.
This is Deborah Rodríguez. She is not Afghan, she is American, born in Holland, Michigan, but a citizen of the world and, among the places that won her heart, is Afghanistan, and she does so through her foundation: Oasis Rescue, of which she is president.
“My heart breaks for the people, I loved living in Afghanistan, they are the most wonderful, flexible, and compassionate people I have ever met and I feel that it is my duty to help with everything I can for what I ever received from them,” he says. she.
Deborah points out that she was in Mazatlán when the fall of Afghanistan happened, and from here she has worked, with the support of a team that is in California and Afghanistan.
Still, she says, they are looking for how to get 150 people, 18 families, it is a great effort to get people out, there is a large international network of people who lived and worked in Afghanistan for 20 years.
“I feel sad because not many people have managed to leave, I have only been able to help three people and I feel very happy for them, but still very sad for those who have not left. What we are seeing happen to that beautiful nation is a crime against humanity, ”she says.
And how did Deborah, Debby, get involved with Afghanistan? She moved to Afghanistan in 2002, from Michigan, and she lived there for five years, from 2002 to 2007, but they threatened to kidnap her son, forcing them to find another place to live.
While he lived there, he says, he opened beauty schools in which he trained more than 200 women, as a way to help and empower them, showing them that they could have their own salons, teaching them to be stylists, to do manicures, pedicures and other services. “I knew women had restrictions at home, but they could still do their hair and that was a safe profession for them,” she shares. These women opened their own salons and some taught their daughters and daughters-in-law to run a family business.
“Now, with Taliban law, aesthetics are prohibited, and the big problem with taking rights away from women as they also take away their livelihood. Many of the women who worked with me were widows and maintained the home themselves. Now they have closed their doors out of fear of the Taliban. One of my former students had stones thrown out the window, another tells me that they cut off the head of a person in a room next to hers,” Debby explains.
Deborah is the president of Oasis Rescue, an organization whose objectives include helping Afghan women to become economically empowered through Kabul Beauty School, where they are taught to be beauty worshipers.
“My organization in Afghanistan was a non-profit organization. The United States said that any American non-profit organization in Afghanistan could apply for special visas, so I was able to apply for people who worked with me, ”she says.
“It was complicated because they had to leave the country, either to Pakistan, to Uzbekistan, to start the visa process, and when Afghanistan fell we rushed to get people out of there, but nobody expected that the Taliban would have taken control of the country so quickly. and many people could not leave when the Americans began to evacuate the Afghanistan territory, “he declares.
She explains that she has a team that works 24 hours a day to find different ways to help people leave Afghanistan and process their visa, and they also seek to raise money to help those who are in a third country or even within Afghanistan.
“Nobody knows what will happen, we are waiting to know if the Taliban are going to allow evacuation and it is difficult to just wait to know what they are going to do.
We receive messages at all hours about fear, videos of the city with rockets and armed confrontations, ”Debby says.
Her face is friendly and smiling, Debby owns a business near Olas Altas, on Sixto Osuna Street, it looks like any other, inside, it is comfortable, it has a particular stamp so customers can feel at home.
And from there she pulls the strings to support. Debby has not only helped Afghans, through the Butterfly Project, she raises funds to support young asylees. “I fell in love with the city (Mazatlán) when I visited it on a cruise ship, I had just left Afghanistan and was looking for a place to live outside the United States.
I tried places like Dubai, Turkey, Spain, Morocco in the North of Africa, but in the end, I fell in love with Mazatlán,” Debby concluded.