The aim of the non-profit organisation registered in Germany under the name of Afghanistan-Schulen – Verein zur Unterstützung von Schulen in Afghanistan e.V., (in short: Afghanistan-Schulen) is to support education for Afghan girls and boys from nursery school to university as well as vocational training. Due to war and unrest, most schools are either destroyed or dam-aged. Furthermore, many villages never had a school in the past. In order to work effectively, we concentrate our efforts in the North of Afghanistan. We consider our projects as help for self help. We work closely together with the people in the towns and villages. Our partners suggest the projects and together we try to implement them in a culturally acceptable way.
1983 during a holiday together with her daughters, Ursula Nölle saw the suffering in the Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan. Because of her daughter's knowledge of Dari, they managed to get in direct touch with the people in a camp where first schools were being set up. Ursula Nölle's first project was a girls' school, a project which was especially important as girls don't have many chances to be educated. In the following years, many more schools were set up in the camps.
Immediately after the withdrawal of the soviet troops in the north in 1988, people who knew the committee from the refugee camps asked for help to rebuild the schools in their home villages. In the following years, more projects were implemented in this area. In 2002 the office of the partner organization VUSAF moved from Peshawar/Pakistan to Kabul. In Afghanistan (Kunar, Samangan, Balkh and the four northern districts of Faryab), until the end of 2011 we had built 42 new schools and eight additional school buildings and repaired 12 others.
In order to supply drinking water for the school children, the committee finances the construc-tion of water reservoirs and the digging of wells.
In Andkhoi and the surrounding villages in the four northern districts of the province of Faryab in the Northwest of Afghanistan (approx. 200.000 inhabitants), the committee continues to sup-port the schools, especially with the construction of classrooms and water reservoirs, the dig-ging of wells, the supply of school furniture and through the small projects funds which enables the schools to implement projects themselves.
However, there are still deficits in the state education system, especially because of the need to improve teacher training. Therefore, we have set up an Education Centre (EC). Young peo-ple who aim to study at university can revise here all school subjects from grade 10. For stu-dents of grades 7 to 9 we offer courses in mathematics and languages (Pashtoo, Dari and Eng-lish). Furthermore, there are additional English courses and computer training. In the workshop of the EC grounds, young men are trained to become electricians (previously we trained car-penters).
Furthermore, there are some cultural activities in the form of calligraphy and painting courses and competitions in poetry and quizzes. From time to time girls and women meet here for spe-cial activities. The EC's library has a good supply of books in Dari and English.
In private homes, three-year courses are offered for older girls and women who want to try to catch up with lessons missed during the Taliban rule. After a three-year training period, some of them join state schools from grade 7. For young women in the villages, we offer one year courses in which they study reading, writing and arithmetic three days/week and on the other three days they are learning to sew. Additionally, they are trained in health subjects for mother and child. After conclusion of the course they can keep the sewing machine enabling them to earn money by making dresses for women and children.
Teachers like all state employees still get a fairly low salary which now amounts to 120 to 280 USD in rural areas. However, at least 330 USD are needed to support a family of 8. To provide another source of income for the families, we supplied 320 households with chickens. One fe-male family member was trained in keeping chickens and shown how to build shelters and feeding utensils. We have been told that the families could not only supply their family's needs but also earn at least 50 USD per months from the sale of eggs. We hope to continue such help.
Much has been achieved, but there is still lots more to be done!
Approx. 40 % of the schools still do not have a proper building, but children are taught in ruins, tents or in the open, other schools are growing and new additional classrooms, and also there are still deficits in the quality of teaching. Therefore, if our donors - maybe you? - continue to support us, we are willing to continue our efforts in constructing new school buildings and in running courses to help improve the education.
Afghanistan-Schulen is supported by private persons, schools, churches, foundations and some companies and receives public funding from the German Foreign Office and the Ministry for International Cooperation and Development and a lottery of the State of Schleswig-Holstein.
All members of Afghanistan-Schulen in Germany are volunteers. Only because of this, it is possible to keep the administration costs low (around 4 %). Twice a year members of the board and of the working circle visit the projects in Afghanistan at their own costs. In Kabul, the part-ner organization VUSAF has an office which coordinates the projects in Northern Afghanistan.
How can you help?
• by working for the committee as member
• by donations as a supportive member
• by financial support of the projects, i.e. asking for donations instead of birthday presents
• by organizing school partnerships
• by encouraging others to support our projects.
Marga Flader and Leo Heyelmann would like to inform you about their trip to Afghanistan in October 2012:
What are all those sheep doing in the middle of the capital Kabul? We are here just before Eid-e-Qurban, the important Muslim holiday when families without financial worries kill a sheep and share the meat with the wider family and the poor.
For Marga this is the 20th project visit to Afghanistan and for Leo the second. We left Germany with many "points on our agenda" and mixed feelings – the word security was hovering above everything we were doing – and we came back feeling glad that we could visit all intended projects, that our discussions with our colleagues in Kabul, Mazar and Andkhoi had been useful and with the impression "our work is good and right" and "there is progress".
The trip was important in order to discuss the continuation of some of our bigger projects for which fund-ing will run out in 2013. What went well? Should there be any changes? Changes in the administration work were one of the topics, too. And, like always, our trip ended with meetings in Kabul which lasted a few days. Nine people from Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif, Andkhoi and Hamburg did not only exchange views and ex-periences but we also discussed possible new projects and changes and we had an outing to Lake Qarghah not far from Kabul which can be seen in our calendar for 2012. On this day we were 11 people in two cars ("no problem"), the air at the lake was good and the food tasty. On our way we passed camps in which "interior displaced persons" are living under extremely bad conditions. Approximately 500.000 people are living in and around Kabul because they had to leave their home due to unrest. These people do not get any support. Our office in Kabul wants to start another small project distributing food and blankets to these people. If you want to contribute to this project, please mark your donations "Winterhelp Kabul". At the end of our trip we had a meeting with some other representatives of NGOs to exchange some experiences and get to know their projects.
In Mazar-e-Sharif we visited some of the schools supported by us. Together with a team from German Na-tional TV we visited the Nahr-e-Top Girls Schools where we took part in the inauguration last year, and Fatema Zarah Girls School where we attended the ceremony for laying the foundation stone, and also Nader Shah which is still a construction site this year. It is great to see what is happening from the first planning to a school building filled with life. The head of education for the province of Balkh showed us another school which needs a building urgently. 2700 girls are taught in three shifts in six big tents and a derelict building which seems close to collapse. Of course, we also visited the school in Chooghdak, our oldest school in Mazar. We were able to distribute football dress to the older boys which were collected by a school in Germany. The smaller children of the kindergarten were happy to get soft toys. One clever little girl used a hand puppet to start talks with her friends to get them talking about health and hygiene. We were happy to see that our endeavours to improve the work in the kindergarten has already borne fruit in the present rooms, how much better will it be when the new building is completed next year?
After the terrible drought of 2011, there was some rain in the Andkhoi region this spring, but strong desert storms covered the seeds with sand and destroyed 70 % of the crop. Insects caused additional damage. This caused the prices to rise dramatically, for example the price of rice increased by 60 % and for four by 24 %. Also the cost of raw materials for making carpets increased – a vicious circle of poverty.
Compared to 2010 and 2011, security has not deteriorated any further in Andkhoi, however, some inci-dents which happened during the last few months have given rise for concern, but we managed to visit schools in three of the four districts (accompanied by police). School staff and students were happy to see us and asked us to pass on their greetings and thanks for the support they got for the construction of class-rooms, furniture etc.. There have been some positive developments. Many schools got new principals who work hard to improve conditions at their schools. Five girls high schools now have female principals. The contact to the parents and acceptance of education for boys and girls in the society has improved. Unfortu-nately, poverty still forces many children to contribute to the family income which forces them to interrupt their schooling or stop going altogether. In some remote villages fathers object to their girls attending state schools for cultural or security reasons. Therefore, we opened two further home courses . Here the girls try to study the same program as the girls in state schools. At the end of the three years they could enrol to state school at grade 7. We are always impressed to see that also older women have the wish and the en-ergy to study despite difficult circumstances: "I do want to be able to read and write the names of my chil-dren!" We are glad to see how the young women who are a bit shy at first become more confident as time goes by. One of our Afghan colleagues has now suggested to start a centre for women in Andkhoi where the women you have been trained in our courses can offer their products and where we would continue to train women. We discussed this idea with the teachers and maybe after our next trip we will be able to report something positives on this idea.
There are some problems at the state schools with the new school books. Not every child gets the neces-sary books in all subjects. Even more problematic seems to be that the new books were distributed to the schools without a guidebook for the teachers or suitable training. Many of the teachers who have not yet had the benefit of proper training do not know what to do with these new books because they are so dif-ferent from the way they are used to teach. In cooperation with GIZ we would like to offer teacher training seminars at a small scale. Like last year some of our teachers have taken part in a workshop at the Teacher Training Institute (TTI) in Mazar. We would like them to pass on what they have learned to their colleagues in Andkhoi. If needed, our committee bears the costs for arranging such seminars, such as travelling ex-penses, accommodation and food.
Because the Afghan government does not have enough funds for repairing or extending schools at the moment, we gave 100.000 Afs. (€ 1.500 EUR) to 12 schools this year. With this money the schools could arrange for urgent repairs to be carried out. The schools send a proposal to us and after carrying out the project themselves they would report back to us. The parents are actively involved and are contributing financially. In this way new classrooms and toilets were built for example, or schools were repaired and freshly painted. One of our aims – to involve the community and to strengthen individual responsibility – could be achieved.
Because there are still problems at the state schools, the preparatory courses which we offer at our educa-tion centre in Andkhoi are still needed. It was very nice for us to meet the students at the centre. We were asked to come to every class and this time we probably made it. One day at the weekend we were shown role plays in which attention was drawn to problems in society. There were different competitions, stu-dents were singing and enjoying games. We have probably said it before, but we are convinced that with these young people a peaceful Afghanistan is possible. Also the journalists from German TV who accompa-nied us in Mazar could show something positive. They were surprised that it was possible to visit the schools and to show in their film that there is "normality" in Afghanistan. They were impressed by what they saw on the roads in Mazar and in the schools, by the work and the joy of the children.
Now at the end – also like always – our request to you: Please continue to support our work which can only continue with your help. Thank you very much for your support and your loyalty. Best regards
Marga Flader, Leo Heyelmann
Hamed Nadjib reports from his trip to Afghanistan in March 2012
It's surprising how the people in Afghanistan cope with weather extremes. It was still rather cold and snowed from time to time; the people were not dressed appropriately, the houses were not heated and the roofs were leaking. But still I heard no one complain; such hardships are accepted without losing the smile in the face. This is something I will always admire in the Afghan people.
On 11 March 2012 I arrived in Kabul. As always, our colleagues were waiting at the airport and were glad that a visitor arrived from Germany. We went to the office and even before I had the first tea in front of me, we were in the middle of a conversation about the political situation, about security and our projects. We did not want to waste any time because already two days later I was planning to leave for the north and, before doing so, I wanted to get the views of our colleagues in Kabul about the general situation and our work in Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif and Andkhoi. In addition to our many discussions, I managed to visit the workshop of the Christian Brothers in Kabul. In this workshop, solar cookers are being built and we would like to introduce them to Andkhoi. The cookers are technically simple, but it is possible for example to boil 5 litres of water in about one hour. It is our aim to enable the people in Andkhoi to build the solar cookers themselves in the near future.
In Mazar-e-Sharif, where we have constructed some schools, I met the responsible people of the construction company Dorokhshan. It was very important for me during this trip to visit the construction sites. I knew from previous visits of our committee members that some problems existed which I wanted to discuss. It soon be-came obvious that the problems are not too big. I was glad to find that the quality of the construction is in line with the local standards. I noticed only some problems with regard to the painting and carpentry works. The construction company undertook to remedy these problems under the warranty. Furthermore, in future, the construction company will provide proper documentation of the electricity installation.
I was very happy to present the Zabuli-Awards to the best students at some schools in Mazar-e-Sharif. The prize money for the Award was granted by the Zabuli Foundation which has supported our committee for some years now.
After my two-day stay in Mazar-e-Sharif I left for Andkhoi together with our new colleague from Mazar. Be-sides the many discussions we had, I also wanted to see the current construction projects we have in this area and those which had been concluded recently. The picture I got here is not much different from what I saw in Mazar-e-Sharif. We agreed on some repairs and technical improvements in the future.
Our educational projects in Andkhoi are all running well in the usual way. I had very open and interesting discussions with the representatives of our morning and afternoon courses. I not only enjoyed these discus-sions very much, but they also confirmed to me that Afghanistan with its potential of active and enthusiastic young people does have a real chance of seeing peace and liberty one day in the not too distant future. Our new colleague together with the colleagues in Andkhoi will keep a good eye on these courses to make this important work a success. Unfortunately, we had to restrict our stay in Andkhoi to three days because of the Afghan New Year Celebrations. One day before the holiday we left again for Mazar-e-Sharif to celebrate the New Year there together with some friends.
On the second New Year's Holiday we left Mazar-e-Sharif for a short visit to Aibak (provincial capital of Samangan) where in 2008 we had constructed a school building which unfortunately still does not have a boundary wall. The villagers who were responsible for its construction could not afford the 12.000 USD which were needed to build such a boundary wall. In my opinion, however, this wall is necessary to provide a safe environment for the students.
Back in Kabul, the preparations started for a workshop which takes place every two to three months. For this workshop, which normally lasts for around two days, VUSAF representatives from Andkhoi and Mazar-e-Sharif come to Kabul; also the representatives of the construction company take part so that all points related to the construction projects can be discussed directly. Because only Afghans were present in this workshop and because I can still speak the Afghan language, there was no need for lengthy translations from Dari-Persian into English which gave us more time for discussions. Moreover, it was easier for me to sense the atmosphere and "read in between the lines". One of our colleagues from the office in Kabul is always writing the minutes for these workshops. These reports are normally quite long, and weeks can pass before the final version is available in Dari and English. This is too long if one wants to address the points discussed quickly. Therefore, we agreed that we would set up a "list of decisions and actions" which would in short define the actions and the dates by whom and when they should be taken up or solved. This was very effective as already at the end of the workshop everyone knew the actions he had to take and we could also report to the board in Germany about the results and the points of discussion immediately. Future workshops will act in the same way.
The main points for discussions were the construction projects. As the construction company did not object to the findings, we did not discuss who was to blame, but tried to find practical solutions and suggestions for improvements in the quality of construction. The measures – repairs and improvements – were noted down in the protocol and I am optimistic that the promises will be kept. I was and still am very impressed by the pro-fessional way in which the workshop was conducted. I am convinced that this is because of the trustworthy cooperation in Afghanistan and between Afghanistan and Germany which has already lasted for many years. In the near future, the actions as defined in the protocol will be carried out. It is the job of Kabul office to en-sure that this will happen. From time to time there will be a follow up and a report to Germany.
It is very sad that the security situation does not allow a greater number of good and useful projects all over Afghanistan. The fixed date for the withdrawal of international troops from Afghanistan in 2014 does not make the situation for the Afghan people any easier. They are worried about what the future will bring. People are reluctant to invest money. Food prices are rising continually and the fears of a return of the Taliban are growing steadily. Just after my return to Germany, there was a Taliban attack in Kabul which showed clearly how unstable the "security" in Afghanistan is. But as the international community keeps promising not to abandon Afghanistan, it is high time for further humanitarian and reconstruction projects so that the Afghan people do not lose their hope and trust. In addition to the educational projects we are planning further school construction projects in Andkhoi, another school and a kindergarten in Mazar-e-Sharif – some of these have already been started. Of course, the Afghan people and we need your help to enable us to carry out these pro-jects. We hope that you will continue with your support!
For futher information you can contact us as follows:
Afghanistan-Schulen, Deefenallee 21, 22113 Oststeinbek
Tel. ++49 40 712 24 67 or 713 83 01 (Marga und Klaus Flader)
or Tel. +++49 / 40 / 643 23 11 (Tanja Khorrami)
Afghanistan-Schulen is a registered charity assisting developing countries (here Afghanistan), especially with regard to education, and is approved by the tax authorities in Germany.
Donations in support of our school projects can be made to our account as follows:
PayPal payments please to: email@example.com
|Name of Account holder:
||EthikBank, Martin-Luther-Straße 2, 07607 Eisenberg
||830 944 95
||GENO DE F1 ETK
To enable us to send you a receipt, please inform us of your name and address, if possible by e-mail to : firstname.lastname@example.org
We are very grateful for any support you may give us to help improve education in Afghanistan.