Unleash Afghanistan’s Potential through Education

Author of The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini, was once quoted as saying,

Education of the general population is critical to the transformation of Afghanistan’s political and economic condition.”

Woman learning how to read and write at the Afghanistan Relief Organization. Photo: ARO

Indeed, since civil war has ended, education is one of the programs that non-governmental organizations (NGO) such as the Afghanistan Relief Organization (ARO) place high on their priority to get Afghanistan and its people back on their feet.

ARO runs two education programs in Afghanistan, the Women’s Literacy Program as well as the Rural School Project, targeting women and children respectively in these initiatives.

Given that approximately 75% of schools were ruined because of Afghanistan’s 30 years of war, there was an urgent need to rebuild these so that its people can have an education. In 2002, it was projected that 5,574 schools need to be reconstructed or built.

To encourage women into the Women’s Literacy Program and get an education, these Afghan women are given US$50 per month as family support. This program works hand in hand with the Sewing Initiative Program which provides home-based work for these women, encouraging them towards self-sustainability in order to deliver them from the vicious poverty cycle. Without vocational skills, it is hard for women to find any form of work.

Women being trained in vocational skills at the Afghanistan Relief Organization. Photo: ARO

Margaret Stockover, then ARO volunteer and now project leader of the sewing initiative, spoke of her trip in 2004 to visit the women at the Sewing Initiative Program, “The amazing thing about Afghan women is their ability to hope in the face of all odds. All they want is a chance. A chance for peace. A chance to provide for their families. A chance to live with some degree of security.”

“These are women just like us…laugh, they cry. They want their children to grow up in a secure environment, with food to eat and a warm place to sleep. The Sewing Initiative seeks out women like these,” adds Stockover.

Education gives these women a second chance at life, and an opportunity to better take care of their families.

In support of ARO’s education efforts to women and children, film producers at Participant Productions and Paramount Vantage made ARO the sponsored NGO for the award-winning film, The Kite Runner, a moving story of that centres around the lives of two young boys growing up in Afghanistan.

In 2007, ARO distributed 500 laptops sponsored by Paramount Classics and DreamWorks Pictures studios to school children in Kabul, Afghanistan. This was an initiative as part of the One Laptop per Child which helps children in developing countries.

Through ongoing support from donors, ARO is able to provide education for women and children to unleash their fullest potential as useful Afghan citizens.


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