Axana Soltan may be only 21 years of age, but she has already done more for human rights than many of us ever do in our entire lives. When she was only 10-years-old, Axana immigrated from her native Afghanistan to the U.S. At the time Axana lived in Afghanistan, the Taliban controlled the country and women endured unspeakably harsh conditions and were deprived of their basic human rights like education, employment and freedom of speech. Girl’s schools were burned down, teachers were threatened and women who spoke up against their regime were flogged and executed.
Axana’s family was forced to flee the country and became refugees. Axana has spent much of her childhood in refugee camps where there was no school, no medical facilities, no electricity, heating, and not even access to the very basic life necessities such as water. After witnessing the disparities in Afghanistan, she has witnessed the harsh life in exile inside a refugee camp in Pakistan: children passing away due to preventable illnesses, children not being able to get schooling, and families begging for food just to survive.
While in the refugee camps, Axana was drawn to the good works being done by UNICEF – providing education, food, medicine, and other essentials to the dispossessed in the camps. At a very early age, Axana made it her life’s mission to help people in much the same manner as UNICEF. Just five years after arriving in the U.S., her work began in earnest – at age 15!
In 2013, Axana founded Enhancing Children’s Living (ECL), a non-profit organization whose goal is “a world in which every child lives a healthy, fulfilling life and builds into smart, creative, and healthy children.” The stated mission per their Facebook page is …
Enhancing Children’s Living is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit philanthropic organization based in Richmond, Virginia. Established in 2013, the society is organized to be a humanitarian unit that ignites the lives of children living in destitute. The organization provides access to meal nourishment, education, advocacy, and medical care to children in and out of the country.
Enhancing Children’s Living invests in a better future, a different future. It invests in a world in which no child left behind. Where children everywhere have the opportunity to reach their fullest potential. By partnering with local government, and child advocacy organizations, we ensure every child has a voice and no child feels neglected.
For the past five years, ECL has done so much good for children around the world, from putting together backpacks full of school supplies for children in Pakistan, to sending nourishing meals to children in Haiti, to buying hundreds of pairs of shoes for children coming to the United States from Afghanistan.
Axana has achieved global recognition for her activism. On May 13th, 2017, before an audience of 2,500 people, Axana spoke against the travel ban of refugees in her Commencement Address, declaring the ban of children from the seven Muslim countries a violation of the Article 22 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights. She was the first Afghan-American Hero recipient on CBS and received praise from national magazines, such as Blaze and Value Magazine.
Last year, Axana graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University where she received her Bachelor’s of Science degree in Criminal Justice.
Axana aspires to become a human rights lawyer and continue her advocacy through policy to ensure that all children, regardless of country of origin or refugee status, are awarded children’s rights protections as guaranteed by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).Axana Soltan has been the energy and the inspiration behind Enhancing Children’s Living, and ECL has secured the education of over 1,700 children around the world. The organization has also been actively providing these children with thousands of backpacks filled with school supplies, hundreds of shoes, clothing and even food.
Next time you hear somebody comment on how terrible immigrants are, that they are all lazy criminals and bad for our nation, think about Axana.
“Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world. Once you have determined your purpose in life, then chase after it. In the process, please remember to help others. I strongly believe that a just and compassionate world stars with each one of us. You don’t have to be a doctor, lawyer, or a rocket scientist to make a difference in the world. There is no timeline. Together we can create a world that places human needs and human-rights above all.” – Axana Soltan