Afghan-born Barin Dinzad, who now lives in Roeselare in West Flanders, has a unique plan to raise money for her family back home – by selling champagne.
Dinzad, now aged 27, was born in Afghanistan but left in 2002 with her parents and five siblings. She now works as a wine sommelier, something that would make her a double target if she were ever to return to Afghanistan now that the Taliban has once again taken control of the country.
Her immediate family is now safe, living in and around Roeselare, but she has many relatives still in Afghanistan, who now face the prospect of returning to a life of oppression under the new government, the women and girls in particular.
“We were lucky enough to get here safely and to build a new life, even if it didn’t always go smoothly,” she told the Krant van West Vlaanderen this week.
“What my family is going through in our homeland is really harrowing. For example, my aunt and uncle live in Kabul with their four sons. A cousin of mine also lives in Kabul with her husband and child. My parents were still in contact with them last week. It goes without saying that they are very anxious.”
Other relatives live in smaller villages, those that are closed off to the outside world. The family here has had no news from them so far.
“They all wanted to flee, but unfortunately that is not affordable,” she said.
Hence the fund-raising idea, which will combine raising money to support the family back in Afghanistan with the most defiant gesture against the Taliban: a campaign run by a woman based on her job working with alcohol.
“Unfortunately, we can do very little for them other than provide some financial support. I try to do that with the sale of champagne, the profit of which goes entirely to my family,” she explained.
The wine, not only champagne but also cava, fortified wines, red, white, rosé and non-alcoholic wines, go via her webshop.
“The whole situation reminds me a lot of the time when we were on the run ourselves,” she said.
“Despite the uncertainty and despair of that time, we are now very grateful for the chance of a happy life here. I myself was still very young when we lived in Afghanistan, so not everything stuck, but some memories are still very clear.”
Now all of those memories are pleasant ones. And the thought that life in Belgium is now comparatively carefree is marred by the idea of what her other relatives may have to endure back home.
“My parents were certainly right when they saw no future for their children in that country. Now that they see that all six of us could study here and have a good job, they are very happy.”