Afghan Women's Fund
Summer 2005 Trip Report

To all our friends and supporters: 

Fahima with Suraya of Voice of Women (VOW)

Fahima with Suraya of Voice of Women (VOW)

Tent Classroom in Kandahar

Tent Classroom in Kandahar

I was in Afghanistan in May, bringing your donations with me, to accomplish much-needed work on behalf of women and children. This report will explain to all donors exactly how we used your generous support.

In Khost Province

When I was still in the U.S., we sent a 40-foot container full of text books, computers, medical supplies, and clothing to Afghanistan.  I managed to get the medical supplies and text books to the University of Khost and distributed the other supplies to other worthy groups and villages. 

While in Khost, I also talked to the provincial Department of Education, who told me that there are 267 schools in this province but only 45 school buildings. Imagine how difficult it is to study in under the sun in brutal heat. Only the lucky ones have tents. These terrible conditions describe the school situation all over Afghanistan. While I was there, I was able to purchase and donate over 100 blackboards and 35 carpets for the girls' schools in addition to school supplies (they were sitting on the bare ground and had no equipment at all).  In the village of Yaqubi, we opened a new literacy class.

In Paktika Province

In central Paktika province, we dug a well and equipped it with a generator and pump.  This will give the more than 10,000 residents of that area their first access to potable water.  Digging a well in Sharana, the provincial capital, is a goal for my next trip.

In Herat Province

As you may know, women's suicide by self-immolation is an epidemic in Herat, and my goal was to help the burn ward of Herat Hospital. It is a tragic situation for the women, many of whom are so desperate that sometimes their children are victims of fire.  The conditions in the hospital defy description. Bandages for burns are reused again and again and are applied from one patient to another. The nurses and cleaning women had not been paid for a long time and were on the verge of quitting. We paid their salaries for one year out of our Herat Burn Fund, and I delivered some medical supplies to the burn ward. Because this section of the hospital did not have a washer or dryer, I purchased these appliances so that hospital help don't have to wash sheets by hand - saving time and labor and creating more sanitary conditions.

Our school in Ingeel district of Herat province, sponsored by the Ellis School of Pittsburgh PA, was very eager to see me. When the school was founded 2?  years ago, 150 students registered; now there are 1150 girls studying there!  I managed to give all the girls school supplies for a year.  But there is still no school building, so students study in tents and some directly under the sun.  I managed get them carpets since they were sitting on raw, hard ground.  We also secured land for building a school. A portion of the land was donated by the villagers, and we bought the other portion at a discounted price.  We walled in the land and hope to raise enough money to build the school soon. This is the only girls' school in a group of six villages.  The school principal told me that they have to turn away 100s of girls because they don't have the money or space for more students.  If we build this school, about 5,000 girls will benefit.

Along with our sister organization Voice of Women (VWO), we started our model women's shura {women's council} in a rural area of Herat. After training and education, women will be able to run their own shuras.  The purpose of these shuras is to teach women their rights and how to advocate for them, help them become self-sufficient, and help their villages.

 In Kabul

I opened 12 new literacy classes in rural areas of Kabul province:  the Kamary, Saraye, Farza, and Deh Sabz, areas and several others.  Since I returned to the U.S., I have been notified that additional women came to enroll, so they have added 2 classes.

I opened three jewelry-making classes in these areas for about 65 women. In Saraye we dug a well, which will give clean drinking and irrigation water for an entire area. And we sponsored 10 orphans for 4 months, with hopes that our friends in the States will sponsor more.

I also made arrangements to pay 6 months of educational expenses for a young man who lost both legs and the sight in one eye from a landmine.  This will cover fees for his literacy and computer classes, bus fare, books, and all other educational expenses.  He is the only surviving male in his entire family, so his education will greatly help many people.

In Takhar Province

My trip to Takhar province was not very successful, although I met with some women there.  Because of the floods, the roads were closed for several days, and I could only accomplish basic assessment by interviewing some people who had migrated to Takhar. I hope to build a girls' school and a women's clinic in Chayab in the future - this district includes several villages but has no clinic or girls' school.

While in Takhar I donated 20 chickens to each of 20 needy families and one goat each to 17 other families.

In Parwan Province

Mir Bacha Kot (about 1 hour north of Kabul, just inside Parwan Province) is a village I've been working with for several years on many projects -a model village for our work because it needs so much help. In Mir Bacha Kot there is one clinic that has to serve 6 villages.  It is open only from 8am to 3pm, with no care available in the entire region outside those hours.  We were able to donate some desperately-needed medical supplies. Villagers begged us to help them build an addition to the clinic to provide two additional examination/birthing rooms and two rooms for TB patients.  Right now there is one rudimentary exam/birth room and no rooms for TB patients. The addition will cost $10K U.S., and we hope to do have the funds for this project in the near future.   

On my last trip, the villagers of Saraye in Mir Bacha Kot district asked me to have a well dug for them. I was able to raise money for the 76 meter deep well, which provides drinking and irrigation water for over 10,000 people. In addition I opened 2 literacy classes for the women in this village.

I also visited the school we had set up previously in Mir Bacha Kot.  They would very much like a U.S. sister school. The village is making good use of all the help we have given them in the past few years.  I estimated that 80% of women in the immediate area are now literate.  Since the new mayor of this district is a woman, we want to help these villages support her.

I also gave 15 families 20 chickens each and 10 additional families a goat each in Istalif.

As always, many thanks for your ongoing support and trust!  None of this could happen without you!

Fahima Vorgetts