After Fleeing From Afghanistan, These Women Are Finding New Community in Yosemite
Patagonia’s new film, ‘Ascend’, follows three women who escaped from the Taliban and rediscovered climbing and community in Yosemite
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From January 2015 to the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021, Ascend, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, used climbing and mountaineering to help young Afghan women build the confidence and resilience they needed to become community leaders in a male-dominant country. But then on August 15, 2021, the Taliban swept into Kabul and began hunting through the offices of western NGOs, looking for the names of affiliated Afghan citizens and forcing thousands of hopeful, educated, and employed Afghan women to abandon public life and retreat into their homes. Overnight, Ascend’s priority shifted from empowerment to evacuation and resettlement, and they managed to successfully rescue 134 former students and employees, finding new homes for them in eight countries, including the U.S.
Directed by Kathryn Francis and Campbell Brewer, Patagonia’s moving new film, Ascend, follows three of these women, Mina Bakshi, Haniya Tavasoli, and Rabia Hussain, from their final days in Afghanistan to their first trip to Yosemite last summer. In the process, the film highlights the agonizing choice these women faced—a choice between abandoning their futures and retreating inside or abandoning their homes and their friends and their families to find a fresh start elsewhere.
Evacuated from Afghanistan, 20-year-old Refugee and Climber Looks Forward