Sara Wahedi, Emergency Student Fund
Sara Wahedi is a pioneer in the technology industry who founded Ehtesab, a revolutionary Afghan emergency notification app that aids over 4 million Afghans. Sara was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, an area that has experienced many years of turmoil and violence. In 2018, Sara was walking very close to her home in Kabul, Afghanistan when a bomb exploded. Although her neighborhood went into lockdown, Sara struggled to obtain any information about the incident. The struggle and fear Sara experienced in this moment demonstrated the need for an emergency notification system, and she began developing Ehtesab.
In an effort to expand and improve Ehtesab, Sara was committed to pursuing Higher Education at Columbia University. Unfortunately, she lacked the resources to make this a reality. Fortunately, Sara’s financial need was recognized by the Institute of International Education’s Emergency Student Fund. Sara received a grant that enabled her to continue pursuing her degree in Digital Communications and Human Rights at Columbia University.
Access to information is really an important crux for decision making, especially at the community level”Sara Wahedi
Sara utilized the knowledge and skills she developed at Columbia to expand Ehtesab, and has risen to become a respected and successful figure in the technological field. In 2021, Sara was named a TIME magazine 2021 Next Generation Leader, and in 2023, she was named a 2023 Asia Forbes 30 under 30.
IIE’s Emergency Student Fund (ESF) provides grants to international college students in the U.S. when natural disasters, war, or other crises threaten their education. Many face financial pressure to return home or drop out because their family circumstances have changed dramatically. IIE helps these students cover essential needs, including basic living expenses. It is a critical resource for students in crisis when they have no other safety net. Since 2010, IIE has awarded over 2,800 ESF grants, providing over $8 million in critical support to students from around the world.
Learn more about the Emergency Student Fund and how it is enabling international students like Sara to continue pursuing their academic work in the face of crises, below.