As Afghanistan changes, the Foundation has to change its approach as well. But we are still as committed as ever to supporting the women and children of Afghanistan.
Nine years ago when the Foundation was set up following Linda’s death, we were early 60-year-olds. Since then, we’ve become the proud owners of reading glasses, a hearing aid, deteriorating memories and postures. Live long enough and it’s a decline we all experience.
Nine years ago, Afghanistan’s ‘reconstruction’ was progressing fast, probably too fast, but things appeared to be improving. Now, even though need has increased, we find it more difficult to find good new projects. Many NGOs have pulled out because of deteriorating security, and it’s become more difficult to monitor projects on the ground. Or maybe, with nine years of experience, we’re more discriminating.
Change is inevitable and the changes that we have to deal with both at home and in Afghanistan are huge. But we are totally committed to continuing our work and we’ve tried to detail below how we’ll adapt to changing circumstances.
Every penny counts
It’s always been difficult for us to arrange fundraising events in the Outer Hebrides; we haven’t the population and it’s not a rich area. To appeal to donors we have always tried to keep our overheads to a minimum and this year we’ve taken that a step further with the completion of our self-catering cottage in Uig. The rental income from the byre, together with donations from the Mangersta Bothy, pay all the Foundation’s costs in the UK. That means every penny donated gets to Afghanistan, which we believe makes LNF attractive to many donors.
Our previous emphasis on funding many small projects, which has proved so successful in previous years, will have to be scaled back because we will find it increasingly difficult to maintain the level of administrative effort and oversight required.
We continue to be energised by the transformation made in young Afghan women’s lives, as well as the benefit they can bring to their communities and the changes they bring to their families.
We have expanded our university scholarship programme and we now sponsor 106 women studying for degrees. We deal directly with the universities so there is no middleman or other NGO to liaise with, which simplifies our administration. We continue to be energised by the transformation made in young Afghan women’s lives, as well as the benefit they can bring to their communities and the changes they bring to their families.
Most poor Afghans don’t live in cities but, as the government has lost control of many rural areas, it has become increasingly difficult to access those in need of our help. Regrettably, an increasing number of our projects have been delivered in the capital, Kabul. To address this, we have made a conscious decision to start working in places where the Taliban are the ‘de facto’ government.
We are not a government or a political organisation – we will help women and children irrespective of their government. This doesn’t mean we will not resist the attitudes to women the Taliban hold, but we will continue to help women from poor rural backgrounds however the situation develops.
Inevitably these changes won’t suit everyone but adapt we must and we have every reason to believe that the next nine years will be as successful as the last.
As always, we’re deeply grateful to all of you who have supported the Foundation and, more importantly, so are those whose lives have been transformed in Afghanistan. We’ve met plenty of them and can assure you they do appreciate the help which you have given.
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