We have direct experience with the projects and people we fund in Afghanistan. We have met with them and, when possible, we have visited with some of the beneficiaries of the work. We are assured the money goes directly to the Afghan people.
To participate with us in this direct citizen-to-citizen work in Afghanistan, please contribute to the Path of the Friend, or indicate one of the specific projects with your donation.
Security has become an increasing risk for both Afghans and internationals
involved in any positive work. In the following descriptions of work we are
currently supporting, we have changed the names of the individuals involved.
Photos are from our travels but not directly related to a specific project.
QQQQQiFUNDING SCHOOLS IN A RURAL PROVINCE UNDER TALIBAN CONTROL
Dr. Nurisa is a gynecologist. She works in Kabul during the day and every evening drives hours to her home province, which is under Taliban control. There she holds evening maternal and child health clinics. She is a conservative Muslim, but still her life has been threatened several times. When we met with her she had been told by her family that they could no longer protect her.
The schools in her district were burned down by the Taliban. She met with the Taliban and negotiated to set up a tent school for the boys and home schooling for the girls. Both will go beyond teaching Islam. Nurisa wants to offer grammar and reading, geography, history and math.
We gave her a grant to buy tents, supplies, cushions for the boys’ school (classes are currently held outside), and to pay for teachers and cushions for the home schools for the girls. More funds are needed for both schools for books and science materials.
qqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqFUNDING EDUCATIONAL EXCELLENCE IN KABUL
The A4T (Afghans for Tomorrow) school for poor children in Kabul decided at its inception to become a model school. Despite the growing number of schools in Afghanistan, most end at the 6th grade, most girlsquit by the 4th grade, and many teachers have only gone to 8th grade themselves. The A4T school just began 9th grade training for its students. Their goal is to eventually prepare poor children for University.
The A4T school has a brilliant and composed principal with a Masters Degree. All teachers have had some higher education, and ongoing teacher training is required. The daily sessions go six hours (two hours longer than the norm), and children learn language, history, science, reading, math, history, geography and art. The school held its first science fair when we were there. And one of the teachers set up a “pen pal” relationship in English between the 8th grade girls and girls of the same age in a juvenile institution in California.
The school was originally only for girls, but after their great success the parents wanted their sons to attend also — so this year there are some young smiling boy faces scattered among the smiling girls.
The school depends upon contributions from Americans. We gave a grant to to help pay salaries for the new 9th grade teachers, and to help pay for their rent, which doubles every year. You can contribute to the funding drive to build their own school by donating here.
qqqqqqqqqqqqqJOB TRAINING FOR STUDENTS IN A TALIBAN PROVINCE
We were able to meet with the head of a school district in Khost Province bordering Pakistan. He described a very well planned vocational training program that they have recently set up in conjunction with a new school in the center of their provence. There are 268 students in the school. They have identified seven boys (ages 19-22) for training in computer repair and ten girls (ages 15-16) to train in tailoring. They have surveyed the area to be sure these skills will be useful in the province and will allow the young people to help support their families and allow younger siblings to go to school
Our grant went to buying tailoring equipment, including sewing machines (which go with the girls when they graduate) and five computers and tools for the young men.
We also helped pay for materials for the girls to make school uniforms for the entire school. Money goes a long way in the provinces. See the thank you letters the new students and their parents are already sending us.
qqqqqqqqECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT FOR WOMEN IN THE RURAL PROVINCES
Fatima is an Afghan woman who moved to the United States during the Taliban reign. Since 2002 she has spent half of each year in Afghanistan. She travels through the provinces developing women’s “shura’s (community councils). The purpose of the shura is to gather the women to discuss, plan and implement economic development opportunities for them and their villages.
When I asked Fatima how she gets the men to agree to this empowerment of women, she replied, “The first thing I do is go to the mosque and start talking to the Imam and then the men. I need them to agree. Most do, unless they are stopped by the Taliban.” The average size shura includes between 50-100 women.
During their regular gatherings, women decide on which projects they will do to support them and their families. The women always decide to support a project that will help their village — a new pottery kiln, a new well, a craft bazaar, security walls for a school.
Fatima pays the shura’s coordinator for a year and pays the rent for a room for them to meet in. Once the women decide what to do, she raises funds to support their projects and distribute their products. Her life is at risk, but she is committed to advancing women’s dignity in Afghanistan.
Our donation opened a new shura in a district with over 600 families in need of help. Our grant went to buying sewing machines, fabric, beading and craft making equipment, and school supplies for more than 100 students.
qqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqWOMEN OF HOPE
“Poverty can be an addiction,” said Gabriella. She had been a baggage handler for an American airline for eleven years when 9/11 slowed airline travel. She was fired; six months later she found herself at the Afghan border trying to get in to help. An Afghan man offered to get her across. Today he is her personal driver and bodyguard. “I couldn’t have done anything without him,” she said.
Gabriela has empowered 1,300 women with micro loans. She is constantly recycling her money and expanding her reach. She runs a large embroidery and sewing co-op. She uses the interest from her micro grants to fund market gardens and hydroponics in resettlement camps. “You’ve got to stay with it or they quit — they all have PTSD.”
A woman named Tamar came to Gabriela. She has eight children who had not eaten in three days. Her husband was in shock and so afraid of the police so wouldn’t leave the house. She offered to sell the dirty carpet from her house for food. Gabriela went to meet with Mustafa, her oldest son. She registered him in reading classes and bought him a pushcart and some clothing. He can make about $10 a day with it. He gives 10% to Gabriela every month and she puts the money away to enroll him in a computer school. He stabilized his family of ten.
We gave a grant to Gabriela’s organization, Women of Hope, and and we did something unusual. Gabriella’s driver has a badly infected tooth that is spreading, and Gabriella herself has been sick for over a year. She cannot afford to go back to the U.S. We gave her a separate grant to go to India and get the medical treatment they both needed.
qqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqREACHING THE POOREST OF THE POOR
Some work is impossible for a Westerner to do. It is impossible for us to go into a family home to see their reality, or to dispense funds in displaced persons camps, or know who is sick and needs medical help. We have entrusted a close friend to distribute funds to the poor and struggling that we might not be able to meet.
Abdullah is married with four sons. When the civil war started, he trained as a war surgeon and worked in this capacity until the Taliban left with the American bombing. He then became a hospital administrator until a few years ago. When we asked him why he quit, he said, “ too many dead children.” He now works as an interpreteur.
Abdullah’s main goal in life is to be ”a good Muslim.” After every meal he will carefully wrap up whatever is left — even a few french fries or bread pieces. He then gives the parcel of food to the first poor person he sees. Generosity to the poor is one of the main tenets of Islam, and of Abdullah’s life.
Abdullah recently wrote us about how he was using his funds: Zelaikha is 35 and lived in a camp in Pakistan for ten years. Today she lives in Kabul with her five children. Her husband died in a car accident three years ago. Her oldest son is looking for work; the younger one sells small things from his cart. She pays some rent for a small hovel. One day her neighbor said something bad to her daughter, and Zelaikha confronted the man. They quarreled and the man beat her up. She was in the hospital for ten days because of the trauma to her head.
Abdullah heard about her story and went to the hospital.He paid her expenses and gave her some money so she could buy a sewing machine for her and her daughter, and a few chickens and some cooking pots and pans. “She became very happy for receiving the money and is praying and appreciate a lot.”