The Linda Norgrove Foundation has now raised more than £3 million to help support women and children in Afghanistan.
Thanks to our supporters, we reached this milestone in June. To date, we have distributed around £2.75m on various projects ranging from literacy campaigns to lifesaving medical operations.
In recent years the Foundation had been funding an increasing number of scholarships for women studying at university, particularly medical students.
But their work has become much more complicated in recent years, as John Norgrove explained: “Our task has become harder since the Taliban took control and it was a terrible blow for our students when they announced women could no longer attend university.
“A number of our students were only weeks away from becoming doctors, but we are hopeful we may find a way of bringing at least some of them to Scotland to complete their studies. Otherwise, it’s a tragic waste of female talent, as well as a tragic waste for their home country, which desperately needs women doctors.
“We have had tremendous support from the Scottish medical schools and we continue to urge the UK Government to make good on their promise of bringing at-risk Afghans here. Discussions are continuing on this front.”
When university education was stopped for women, the Foundation continued to support the scholarship students by paying an increased allowance to help them cope with the rising costs of food and fuel.
Ability to adapt
The charity has also provided emergency food and fuel to families headed by women as life becomes harder and harder in Afghanistan with the collapse of the economy. It’s that ability to adapt to changing circumstances that has helped them continue when many other charities have withdrawn from the country.
As Lorna Norgrove highlighted: “We are a relatively small charity, which makes it easier for us to be flexible and change our focus when required.
“We were struggling at one point to get money into Afghanistan to pay for food parcels, stoves and fuel, as well as paying fees and providing living allowances to our students.
“The traditional banking system is close to collapse but we have used alternative ways of getting the money there.”
In the last 12 years the Foundation has helped fund a variety of different projects. These include:
- scholarships that enabled 163 young women from poor backgrounds to attend university, including 96 training to be doctors – eight graduated before the Taliban stopped university education for women
- a small maternal health clinic run by Afghan volunteers from a local hospital that provides maternal care to poor families, including nutritional supplements for malnourished children
- Healthprom, which provides safe drinking water to isolated villages by digging underground tanks from solid rock
- the Children’s Medical House where we pay for operations every year at the French Children’s Hospital in Kabul – we’ve funded 25 so far this year with more planned for later in the year.
The charity also works in partnership with other charities at various times, for example on a scheme to improve literacy and build a network of community libraries for women across the country, in partnership with Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan.