RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A 2020 University of Richmond graduate and refugee from Afghanistan is touching hundreds of people around the world through podcasting thanks to a $10,000 grant.
Lina Tori Jan left Afghanistan as a student in 2014. Her family just recently fled the country, and she says, barely made it out alive.
“I’m sitting in my room and I’m getting a call from my sister and she’s freaking out — ‘The Taliban are in the city, the Taliban are in the city.’ I couldn’t believe it,” she said.
Tori Jan said her family made three attempts to leave at the airport.
“On one of the attempts, they got tear-gassed, they got trampled over, they got shot at, they left with a few broken bones and dislocated joints, but eventually and thankfully they made it out,” she said.
Earlier this year, she started three projects that share stories of Afghan immigrant and refugee women. One of these initiatives is Chai wa Dastan, which translates to Tea and Tale.
“This experience has underscored the critical importance of raising women’s voices and building awareness of the many systemic barriers immigrants and refugees face on a daily basis,” Tori Jan said.
Two podcasts feature real Afghan women and a children’s book series aims to help Afghan children learn languages. They’ve reached hundreds of people in more than 20 countries, Tori Jan said.
The University of Richmond graduate recently received a $10,000 Davis Projects for Peace grant so these efforts can continue. Projects for Peace is an initiative supporting college students on grassroots projects that are designed to build peace.
“We tell the stories of refugee women. Their stories of resilience, perseverance, strength, struggle, and hope,” Tori Jan said. Right now, the podcasts broadcast in English but she said they’re hoping to expand the languages offered to include Farsi.
She is in Charlottesville right now and said she’s proud of her new home state of Virginia for taking in so many Afghan refugees recently.