Earlham grad selected for prestigious fellowship to support Afghan relief network

Summia at Oxford without crop
Summia Tora graduated from the University of Oxford earlier this year after earning a master’s degree in public policy.

Summia Tora, a 2020 Earlham College graduate, is one of 18 people in the world to be selected for the prestigious Echoing Green Fellowship in 2022. The fellowship is awarded to global leaders with “bold and audacious ideas” to change the world.

Tora will use the $80,000 fellowship to expand the Dosti Network, which she started in 2021 to provide humanitarian relief for Afghans affected by Taliban rule.

“I originally started the Dosti Network because I was trying to get my father out of Afghanistan,” said Tora, who is a native of Afghanistan but grew up in Pakistan as a refugee before enrolling at Earlham. “Thanks to a network of volunteers, the project started with supporting Afghans to connect with resources for evacuation and resettlement. Now, we are providing aid to grassroot efforts to address food insecurity, inaccessibility to education, and many other key issues in Afghanistan.”

Tora was selected for the fellowship from a pool of 1,400 applicants from 100 countries. Former U.S. first lady Michelle Obama, CNN political commentator Van Jones and Teach for America CEO Wendy Kopp are past recipients of the award. 

“Afghanistan remains in a state of crisis,” Tora said. “There is food insecurity and harsh economic conditions. Sanctions have made it difficult for people to access money in their banks. There’s a brain drain from people who have left and were working or running different organizations due to risks of persecution by the Taliban.”

In addition to the Echoing Green Fellowship, Tora is also a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford. She is the first Afghan and the first woman from Earlham to be selected for the award, one of the most celebrated academic scholarships in the world. Earlier this year, Tora earned a master’s degree in public policy from Oxford and is currently studying part-time to earn a second master’s degree in international human rights law while furthering her humanitarian work.

Tora said the values that were instilled in her from her Earlham education guide her team as they expand their outreach.

“Our work is really driven by the values of an Earlham education, including integrity, community and peace and justice,” Tora said. “We’re not only supporting people who are vulnerable, but we are supporting Afghan civilians who are working with integrity and courage to stand up for justice. Afghans are going through a difficult time and it’s important that we work in solidarity with them.”

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