The situation in Afghanistan remains precarious. According to the latest UN estimates, more than 97% of Afghans will soon be living below the poverty line.* More than 680,000 people have been internally displaced since the change of Government among which 59% are children under 18 years. Rising levels of hunger and outbreaks in refugee camps continue to overwhelm struggling health services. On top of that, the harsh winter over the past few months has further exacerbated people’s lack of access to food.
But because of all of our wonderful donors around the world, Hagar has been able to respond!
The Hagar Team on the ground visited multiple encampments for Internally Displaced People (IDP). They found that most of the people in the IDP camps were women, children, those with disabilities and had no avenue to seek proper refuge. Through the lens of a strict assessment criteria, the team identified and selected the neediest households to be the first beneficiaries of our food distribution program. To date, 5,768 of the most vulnerable people in Afghanistan have benefitted from Hagar’s distribution of food hampers. As expressed by one beneficiary, Khadija, this support came at a critical time where winter typically causes large food shortages in Afghanistan.
“I am from Dasht-e-Barchi in Kabul province. We are six people in our family including me, my husband, two daughters and two sons. My husband is disabled and can’t do anything. And I am the sole breadwinner of the family. Of my children, two are disabled and I bear a lot of problems in my family. I live with my family in a rented house. I can barely make ends meet. In the past, I used to embroider before the fall of the government, which used to bring me some income, but now that work has come to a standstill. For now, Hagar’s help is a solution to some of our domestic problems. I hope Hagar can continue the food aid support because I do not have any other option to provide food for my family. I am very worried about the upcoming winter because we have nothing for winter. I fear that this winter will be very difficult for us”.
Khadija, beneficiary of food support
When visiting the IDP camps, Hagar found that none of the children were attending school. Instead, they were being forced into working to provide for their families through activities such as polishing shoes, begging and collecting garbage from the streets. Seeing the vast need for education, Hagar created primary education classes to take in girls & boys. The classes consist of 25+ students (some mixed in gender) and one teacher and their teaching program follows the standard primary school level curriculum, developed in both national languages. They are taught by experienced instructors who have undergone evaluation by Hagar’s Emergency Response team.All education and recreation materials are provided, and the environment is conducive to learning as well as playing, in order to stimulate children’s thirst for education. In addition to their education, attention is also paid to the children’s physical and mental health, with psychosocial counseling being provided, in partnership with other NGOs. A total of 1,860 children and family members have benefitted from this initiative.
Winter in Afghanistan is harsh. Temperatures can drop below freezing point and snow fall can be severe. As winter began again this year, there were concerns globally about how the vulnerable people in Afghanistan are going to fare especially those in IDP camps and/or with no income to pay for heating. Some news agencies have reported that families are having to choose between food and heat.However, because of all of our wonderful supporters around the globe, Hagar has been able to provide warm blankets, clothing and children’s shoes to vulnerable families (the majority of which are living in camps for Internally Displaced People). Approximately 7752 people have benefitted from this winter support. Such supplies could not be given at a more crucial time and pictured below are some of the distribution events underway.As part of their winter support initiative, Hagar has made sure that the children attending the Hagar Child Friendly Spaces in IDP camps have what they need to stay warm this winter. The following is a testimony from a teacher in one of these spaces about how winter support from Hagar has profoundly impacted the lives of her students:
“Raghida is one of the smartest students in our class in the Arzan Qimat district. Her family is very poor and could not afford her education. When she enrolled in Hagar’s educational program, her clothes were so bad and she was barefoot that in such a cold winter, she could not continue her studies without warm clothes and shoes. They are living in a tent in the Botkhak IDP camp.
One day when I was in the classroom teaching to the students she came to the class very worried. When I asked her the reason? She said: “my family is very poor we do not have warm clothes and blankets for the cold winter. I cannot come to the class without a warm jumper and shoes. So I am going to quit my class in winter.”
Her condition was really bad and it was very difficult to come to the class in this cold weather, but fortunately, Hager’s office took very serious steps in this regard and through the emergency response plan provided warm winter clothes and shoes to the students of our classes. They bought shoes and helped their families with blankets. In doing so, the students who had been forced to drop out of school due to winter resumed their studies. And their families have survived the onslaught of winter”.