Best-selling author Khaled Hosseini has formed a special link with our office in the United States, which he represents as a UNHCR special envoy. In this role, the American author of "The Kite Runner" and "A Thousand Splendid Suns," has joined annual World Refugee Day events and travelled to his native Afghanistan in 2007, 2009 and 2010, and to Chad in 2007 to raise awareness about refugees and returnees.
Inspired by his 2007 trip to Kabul, he created The Khaled Hosseini Foundation to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan. Since then, his foundation has raised US$650,000 and constructed homes for thousands of people returning home after years of displacement. It also supports UNHCR projects which provide employment and education opportunities and health care for women and children. It awards scholarships to women pursuing higher education in Afghanistan or training to become doctors in their country.
During his 2007 trip, he visited villages in northern Afghanistan and spoke to refugees who have returned there. He saw first-hand the humanitarian assistance provided by UNHCR. His 2009 return trip reinforced Hosseini's view that Afghans still need outside help to rebuild their lives and country.
The author says he did not think twice when asked by UNHCR to work with the refugee agency as this was a subject close to his heart. He serves as a public advocate for refugees, regularly using his access to the media to give voice to victims of humanitarian crises.
Hosseini was born in Kabul in 1965. His diplomat father was posted to Paris in 1976 and the family was still there when Soviet forces invaded Afghanistan in December 1979, triggering a massive exodus. The young boy and his family were given political asylum in the United States and settled in San José, California. After high school, Hosseini studied for degrees in biology (Santa Clara University) and medicine (University of California, San Diego). He practised medicine for nearly a decade while writing as a hobby. After the success of The Kite Runner, he became a full-time writer.