Report: June 2008
Here I am with another report. I was in Afghanistan March / April of this year and would like to tell you what I accomplished while I was there.
Kabul: We have been supporting the women’s shora in Khairkhana for years. It has more than 200 members who are working to be self-sufficient. They sell their products on the local market and at some high-end stores. Additionally, more than 200 teenage women from our classes are enrolled in public schools now and some of them performed so well that they are in middle and high schools. We also have a training program for adults who graduated from our literacy classes so that they can continue their education. We were recently able to open six more literacy classes for women in this area. Included in the lessons is material on health and women's rights.
Mir Bacha Kot: We took medical supplies to the clinic, which we built last year with the help of The Sunshine Lady Foundation. The clinic reported that prior to our building the addition, one of every five babies died at birth. Since the addition opened, there have been 87 births and no fatalities. The computer classes that we opened last year in the Mir Bacha Kot girls’ high school are doing very well. With the help of Annapolis High School and our beloved Michael Jefferson, we continued computer classes for 60 more girls. Because the high school is short of space and
most of the girls had to sit on the ground under tents, we provided 100 chairs. We also opened six literacy classes and two tailoring classes for women in the area.
Laghman: The Laghman women’s shora that we formed last year has graduated 35 women from sewing class, and we have opened two additional sewing and handicraft classes. We also opened two literacy classes for women. Teenagers who can’t attend public school for various reasons can enroll in our literacy classes. Villagers donated a piece of land where we have started building a small building to house the area clinic, which has been operating out of someone’s home. The Mandawar girls’ school, which is sponsored and supported by Garrison Forest girls’ school in Baltimore, has more than 35 girls in the computer class, and we were able to provide them with a bigger generator, a printer, and 7 computers.
Logar: The Kulangar girls’ school we started building last year is now open. The girls have left the tents and are using their beautiful new facility. More girls can now be accommodated in the school, and literacy classes for adult women are held in the evening. The man who donated the land for this school, Sher Mohamad Khan, had been running girls schools in this area for years, risking his life to keep them open while the Taliban were in power. When we met him, he was in his 70s, determined—as he put it—to live to see a real school for girls in Logar. Before construction began, he protected the building materials, which were piled in the open air, by sleeping on them every night. When the building was complete, he carried the Koran into every room, where he prayed, and then circled the building twice to bless it. Then, as he left for his home, he fell on the ground and died. I plan to form another women’s shora in Kulangar, just as Sher Mohamad wished, to help women.
We also started building a girls’ middle school in Mohamad Agha, supported by generous donations from my dear friends in the Second Presbyterian Church in Baltimore . The school, which will serve more than 600 girls, will have 12 classrooms and five bathrooms with running water. Our orphan program is ongoing and open to new and continuing sponsors. For $50 a month you can give a child a basic education and a better life. Our orphans are able to live with family members rather than in orphanages.
Wardak: The women’s shora has grown substantially and women are eager to take the literacy, tailoring, and embroidery classes and work toward self-sufficiency. We helped start the construction of a girls' high school and a center for the women’s shora, which are funded by Circle of Women. The school and the women’s center are the two projects for which the Circle of Women has raised money. I am happy to help since I am in Wardak more often than they. Girls who can’t attend school now will be enrolled. The middle and high schools we are building in Logar and Wardak are very important. Girls who graduate from elementary school end up returning to them to repeat classes because there is no advanced school for them to attend. If they have to stay at home every day, chances are that they will be married off.
Herat: The women’s shora in Zendajan continues to be successful. In the last 3 months, the silk scarves the members weave on their looms brought in more than $4,500. They also have a jam and canning business, tailoring, and a baking industry that we helped set up. We helped other women’s shoras and groups near Zendajan start carpet weaving, embroidery and canning businesses. In Karokh, we started literacy and sewing classes in the women’s shora that we formed. We also paid for school supplies and fabric for the children and women of the village.
Our women’s shoras in Injeel, Robat, Neysan and Guzara, are doing very well. We have 16 literacy classes in these villages One hundred sixty women are learning to read and write, as well as new skills like embroidery, knitting, sewing, carpet weaving, bead-making and canning. We provided them with sewing machines and other equipment.
For the past three years we have been paying the salaries of 13 doctors, nurses and other staff at the women’s burn ward in Herat Hospital. Most of these women are victims of domestic violence who attempt suicide by using cooking oil to set themselves on fire. By paying these salaries, we make sure that the women are taken care of.
I want to thank you for your encouragement and ongoing support. Without your help I cannot carry on my mission. I’ll be going to Afghanistan again in August and will send another report when I return. Please help me continue to change the lives of these very deprived people.
NOTE: The Afghan Women's Fund is losing one of its most important volunteers, Anna Dirske. A student at St. John's College in Annapolis, she is off for a year of studies in Africa and Europe Despite her busy school schedule and part time jobs, Anna graciously donated her time to the AWF. For the past few years she acknowledged donations to the organization by writing thank you letters. Thank you, Anna, for your dedication to the AWF and for all your hard work. We wish you great success and happiness in your new adventures.
Once again let me thank you for your trust in me, together we have changed the lives of so many and give so many the hope of a better life. Please continue to be with me, we will make a huge difference in the world.
Fahima Vorgetts (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Director, Afghan Women’s Fund