Surely by now we all realise that the situation in Afghanistan is not improving and is most likely not going to improve in the foreseeable future. But you could say the same about many countries, including our own.
The situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated further and faster, so many must wonder whether it’s a basket case and we’re just throwing good money after bad.
But this kind of misses the point, doesn’t it? We didn’t set out to develop an economy or improve a government, but to help individuals in need. That’s needed now more than ever.
More than 11 years since the Foundation started, despite some difficulties, we’re still going strong, providing more help to women and children in Afghanistan than ever before.
Not giving up
We’re not giving up on women’s education – this spring we awarded scholarships to another 36 women to study to become doctors.
The pace of change has speeded up. Fortunately, with a small and dedicated team, we have the ability to adapt faster.
When levels of hunger increased, we started a programme of giving food parcels to families headed by women, 80 parcels a week for five months, reaching more than 7,500 women and children. As people were literally freezing during the winter, we distributed 180 stoves and supplies of fuel to similar families.
Finding ways to transfer funds
The banking system is still not functioning and it’s nigh on impossible to transfer funds to an Afghan bank.
We found an alternative, traditional Islamic, method of getting funds in called hawala and have transferred £248,000 over six months, all collected in cash in Kabul. So far, we’ve been fortunate, and have not lost any money.
At the time of writing, our UK hawala dealer’s bank account has been frozen and they have stopped trading. But we are actively investigating several alternatives and will find a way.
In Afghanistan, our understanding is that Afghans are fearful, generally not supportive of the Taliban but, although violent robberies remain too common, security has improved and the roads are relatively safe.
The wars, fairly constant since 1975, have pretty much stopped. Suicide bombs and car bombings have declined although extremist elements continue to deliberately exacerbate ethnic tensions by targeting minorities.
The economy is in tatters, few have jobs, prices have rocketed, and there’s no cushion if you’re near starvation.
At the end of the day though, your generous help throughout has enabled us to keep going – thank you.