Written by Margaret McCasland
Ithaca Monthly Meeting has had a long and loving relationship with the Afghan Women’s Fund and its director, Fahima Gaheez (formerly Vorgetts). Fahima used to visit Ithaca regularly to update us on their work and to sell rugs and handcrafts to support AWF’s work. Barbara Barry and Fahima were especially close, and they stayed in touch until Barbara’s passing.
The Afghan Women’s Fund currently needs an infusion of funds to launch an innovative program “that could put education in reach of literally tens of thousands of Afghan girls and young women. We can’t share details yet, but we look to 2023 determined to make it work.”
One of the best ways you can support her work is to purchase one of the hand woven rugs from central or western Asia that she sells to raise funds. You can see photos of the rugs here.
The following (lightly edited) letter is from the Fall 2022 issue of the newsletter of the Afghan Women’s Fund. To also see stories and photos from regions around Afghanistan, see the full newsletter.
Dear friends and supporters,
This year, the Afghan people, including AWF volunteers on the ground, faced more severe challenges.
Working in the Taliban’s Afghanistan is very hard, yet the resilience of our volunteers, teachers, and the women, men, young people and elders is unmatched in the face of their harsh situation. Many local efforts have been successful due to their determination and resourcefulness despite the circumstances, although limited by desperate needs for funding.
While it is possible to move supplies and money to support projects, everything must be done very carefully due to poorly functioning infrastructure in many sectors and the harsh and inconsistent rule of the Taliban. For example, many AWF vocational training projects have been on hold because two key volunteers were killed and another jailed and tortured and now is in hiding. In some locations the teachers and volunteers who have run AWF-supported adult literacy and vocational projects just cannot publicly do so at this time.
So this is a time of working as hard as possible where we can, and working delicately and persistently to expand that space. In the past year this has meant a focus on elementary education and supporting dogged local efforts in several provinces to make high school level education available for girls.
Looking Ahead, AWF remains dedicated to women’s rights and empowerment, no matter the circumstances. This year has been trying for the people of Afghanistan and we are honored to work alongside them to find ways around the obstacles.
Recently we began working on a new program that could put education in reach of literally tens of thousands of Afghan girls and young women. We can’t share details yet, but we look to 2023 determined to make it work. And to share it with you.
We are very careful doing our work and always emphasize caution to our volunteers. Many activists, organizers, and average people (including AWF volunteers) have been killed, tortured, or jailed by Taliban in the past year. Others have had their homes confiscated and had to go into hiding to stay safe, only to have family members harassed and even abducted. Many struggle to have enough food and adequate living conditions. But they still do what they can, as we must as well.
Afghans are knocked down over and over again, yet they stand up again each time. And you, who believe in humanity, thank you for being there for them. Your donations and other assistance literally make the difference. Every help – small or large – gives them hope.
Thank you for your trust, love, and support. Please be in touch!
Best wishes in these difficult times,Excerpt from the Fall 2022 newsletter of the Afghan Women’s Fund
Director, Afghan Women’s Fund
From their website: https://www.afghanwomensfund.org/
“Since 2002, Afghan Women’s Fund has been dedicated to rebuilding Afghanistan with a focus on empowering women and girls through education, access to healthcare, and vocational opportunities. Over the years, AWF has built and opened new schools for girls, developed literacy and computer skills classes for women, created income-generating projects for widows to help them become self-sufficient, distributed warm clothing and school supplies to refugees and guided numerous other humanitarian and educational projects like digging wells for clean drinking water and irrigation, building and supplying hospitals and clinics, and donating resources to widows.”