Safi Rauf Discussing his Work Evacuating Our Afghan Allies

Blog | 04/06/2023

Safiullah Rauf was born in 1994 in an Afghan refugee camp in Pakistan. After immigrating to the United States as a teenager and graduating high school in Omaha, Nebraska, he deployed to Afghanistan for four years as a linguist and cultural advisor embedded with Special Operations, supporting both Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. In Afghanistan, Safi performed translation and interpretation on a wide range of media, advised U.S. military personnel and coordinated with Afghan security forces, coalition partners and U.S. federal government departments—including U.S. Embassy Kabul—to mitigate high-profile threats. Upon his graduation from Georgetown University, Safi enlisted in the US Navy Reserves as a corpsman and was activated in April 2020 to serve as a frontline worker during the pandemic.

In December 2021, Safi was unlawfully detained and held by the Taliban for 105 days and was subsequently released in early April 2022. Since his release, Safi has went on to found the Human First Coalition–an organization dedicated to providing critically needed aid to Afghanistan. For the past year, Safi has led a team of hundreds to provide food, medical care, and resettlement services to over 15,000 Afghans in need and evacuated over 7,000, including 1,400 US Nationals.

Safi’s renewed commitment to aid work in Afghanistan and worldwide and is, in particular, working towards the passage of the Afghan Adjustment Act. He has been named a 2021 Washingtonian of the Year as well as a Ted fellow, giving him the platform to share his story and his mission with his own TedTalk in 2022. We were honored to have had Safi give his talk to nearly 100 Tillman Scholars at the 2022 Pat Tillman Leadership Summit, further spreading his message for the need rescue, relocate and support our Afghan Allies.

Check out his TedTalk from PTLS below: