The Duchess of Sussex created The Welcome Project in 2023 together with the Archewell Foundation, which she set up together with Prince Harry.
The programme is supposed to create ‘a safe haven and inclusive environment for women who have recently resettled in the US from Afghanistan’, according to a press release by the Archewell Foundation.
On Saturday, Meghan joined the Southern California Welcome Project for an evening of cooking and storytelling.
Mina’s List, the foundation’s partner, brought together 15 women that prepared traditional Afghan food like Ashak and Mantuu, both of which are a type of dumpling, with the Duchess.
The Duchess of Sussex (centre) prepared Afghan food together with 15 Afghan women now living in the US on Saturday
Mina’s List, the foundation’s partner, brought together 15 women that prepared traditional Afghan food like Ashak and Mantuu, both are a type of dumpling (the making of which is pictured above), with the Duchess
The women showed Megan how to fill the dumplings and fold them correctly so they keep their shape while cooking (pictured above)
Afterwards, the group of women sat down to discuss their personal stories and the ‘support they find from this inter-generational group of women’.
Foundation partner Mina’s List has been working with women activists and political leaders in Afghanistan since 2014 to push for greater gender equality.
It helped evacuate and resettle over 2,000 Afghan women and families through independent and coalition efforts in 2021.
With many women resettling in Southern California, Mina’s List and The Archewell Foundation joined forces to ‘provide community and support to these remarkable women as they begin to rebuild their lives in the US’, the press release read.
This comes after it was revealed at the end of last year that donations to the Archewell Foundation have plunged by $11million (£8.7m) in 2023 – leaving it with losses of £537k – with boss and the couple’s right-hand man James Holt handed a massive 280% pay rise.
The Sussexes in December released their charity’s annual report and a glitzy promotional film showing their good works in 2023 – but it has also emerged that its finances have dived.
An income tax return filed in the US revealed that in 2022 donations were down to just over $2million (£1.6m) – down from $12.9million (£10.3m) in 2021, an astonishing drop of $11million (£8.7m).
And 2021’s profit of $9million (£7.1m) has nosedived amid a lack of donations. The Archewell Foundation recorded a loss of $674,485 (£536,357) for last year because revenue was $2million but costs were $2.67million.
In 2022 there were only two major donors giving around $1million (£795,210) each. The year before an unidentified wealthy donor gave them $10million but there was no repeat in 2022.
It follows a tumultuous year for the couple, which saw Harry’s vitriolic memoir, Spare, top the bestseller lists but their personal popularity ratings tumble.
The couple (pictured at the Invictus Games in September 2023) set up their Archewell Foundation after quitting the Royal Family and say it is an ‘impact-driven global nonprofit that puts compassion into action’ which is ‘committed to a simple but profound mission: show up, do good’
The foundation’s highest paid employee is Meghan and Harry’s right-hand man James Holt (right with the couple in their Netflix Invictus documentary). He was paid $227,405 a year ($180,835), including a $20,000 (£15,904) bonus
The foundation has filed its annual tax return showing donations have plunged (top set of circled figures) and a profit has turned into a loss (bottom, circled) – but they do still have cash in the bank
They were also the subject of ridicule by popular televisions shows such as South Park and Family Guy, lambasted after claims about a reportedly ‘near catastrophic’ car chase in New York and lost their lucrative podcast deal with Spotify, where one senior executive labelled them ‘******* grifters’.
The couple set up their Archewell Foundation after quitting the Royal Family and say it is an ‘impact-driven global nonprofit that puts compassion into action’ which is ‘committed to a simple but profound mission: show up, do good.’
The Foundation employed five people, with salaries totaling $640,441 (£509,285) for the year. Harry and Meghan did not take a salary.
But executive director James Holt, considered the Sussexes’ right-hand man since Megxit, was paid $227,405 a year (£180,835) over 18 months, including a $20,000 (£15,904) bonus.
This was around a $170,000 (£133,000) pay rise, up from his starting salary of $59,846 (£47,641) the year before.
Holt’s 2021 salary did not reflect a full 12 months of work – it was only for six months – because he joined in the middle of the year, it is understood.
Despite the loss in 2022, it appears that the foundation, described as a ‘non-profit’ organisation, still holds around $8.3milllion (£6.6m) in cash and assets.
The charity still has reserves available and an Archewell spokesperson contested Holt’s pay rise.
The spokesperson said the accounts showed the charity was doing well and managed its finances aptly and would likely have millions to spend each year.
High-profile foundations sometimes receive a large amount of funding in the first year which is then used over the course of several years.
If a foundation already has a large amount of money in the bank this may lead them to reduce future fundraising.