"We must be careful that news of the refugees’ plight does not somehow become commonplace when the initial shock wears off and yet the wars continue and the families keep coming. Millions of refugees worldwide, whose stories no longer make the news, are still in desperate need of help." -Patrick Kearon
Supporting the development of Afghanistan requires what is most difficult for those of us living in relatively peaceful and stable areas in the West—PATIENCE. The alternative, however, is to lose the gains we have made in areas like Afghanistan. Maintaining this balance of thought between the progress made and the challenges that remain is necessary, however, if we have any hope of having stable communities in places that have suffered decades disrupted by external and internal war, natural disasters, poverty, and displacement.
Internally displaced persons (IDP) camps, too often, become permanent places of poverty and hopelessness. Imagine, if you will, being driven from your home and all that is familiar to you. You are then corralled into hastily constructed camps; nothing more than mud huts and tents. These structures are then filled with families—fathers, mothers, children, and extended family. An economy of sorts will disrupt some of the monotony of your new existence, but mostly it will be filled with worries about what the future holds for you and your family. Will circumstances allow you to return to your home? Will your home be there when you return? Will your children ever know the normal life you had before; the life that seems increasingly distant with each passing day? These are compelling questions of substance and not exercises in intellectual what ifs.
Imagine, now, you are a single mother with all of the responsibilities of caring for and supporting your family. You may be a widow. Your husband may be disabled and unable to work. Perhaps, your husband has abandoned you. In these austere environments, you will be particularly vulnerable. You will have little access to the life-changing advantages of education, healthcare, and basic needs. Where will you turn?
Our partner on the ground, The Women’s Education for a Better Tomorrow Organization (WEBTO), is an Afghan women-founded nonprofit working hard to support displaced and disadvantaged women in the Herat, Afghanistan area.
Widows, women with disabled husbands, or otherwise single mothers with the responsibility of providing for their families are being given hope by the women of WEBTO.
WEBTO is training these women in poverty-busting vocational and business skills. This is not remarkable; other organizations conduct training courses. Uniquely, WEBTO is not only training these women in marketable skills, but negotiating with local businesses to buy the program participant's products, creating work places in the camps, and helping other women set up their own businesses. Think of the generational investment in women learning skills they can pass on to their daughters.
A United Nations World Food Program Grant applied for jointly by the WEBTO and Karadah Project will provide the 250 women in the program with food rations to feed themselves and their families while they are going through the 6 month training. Knowing their families are being fed allows the women to more fully concentrate on learning the necessary skills.
Imagine, a contribution of $88 provides food for a family and life-changing vocational training for 6 months.