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His novels have tugged at the heartstrings of millions around the world. Throughout his eight year writing career, renowned author Khalid Hosseini has enchanted his readers with the moving, powerful stories of characters like Amir in The Kite Runner, Laila and Mariam in A Thousand Splendid Suns, and Abdullah in his latest novel, And the Mountains Echoed. But Hosseini’s successes do not end at the tip of his pen. Since 2006, he has extended his work to his native Afghanistan not as a novelist, but as a humanitarian.

Hosseini was born in Kabul, Afghanistan in 1965. After a communist coup brought bloodshed and anarchy to the country, Hosseini’s family sought political asylum in the US in 1980, where Hosseini has lived since. He practiced as a physician in California until he began his career as a writer with the release of The Kite Runner in 2005. In 2006, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) named Hosseini a Goodwill Envoy, taking him back to Afghanistan to work with millions attempting to rebuild their lives. In 2007, inspired by his work with the UN, Hosseini started a foundation in his name dedicated to helping the people of Afghanistan.

The Khaled Hosseini Foundation (TKHF) is a nonprofit organization based in San Jose, CA that works with the UNHCR to create shelters as well as employment and educational opportunities for refugees, women and children in Afghanistan. To date, approximately 5.7 million Afghani refugees have returned to Afghanistan. Many of them homeless, these refugees have faced harsh summers and cold winters that have claimed the lives of thousands. And when looking for schooling or employment that could allow the population to rebuild, many Afghans have hit a dead-end.

TKHF came to help by focusing on building homes and infrastructure for those living without shelter, supporting the creation of jobs, and promoting and funding schools for girls and boys whose futures had seemed bleak. By 2012, TKHF provided over $650,000 to the UNHCR to build shelters for Afghanistan’s homeless. Through Trust in Education and the Afghan Friends Network, TKHF funded the education of hundreds of children. And through Markets for Afghan Artisans, TKHF is able to promote an array of jewelry, bookmarks, and purses handcrafted by Afghan women living as refugees in Pakistan, helping to keep these women employed.

Find out ways to get involved and join in Hosseini’s effort here.

– Lina Saud

Sources: Khaled Hosseini Foundation, UNHCR
Photo: The Guardian