by Lutheran World Relief
May 14, 2011
According to the international assistance community, Afghanistan is currently in the “relief, recovery and reconstruction phase” amid a fragile peace. While the challenges that lie ahead are very real, Hungarian Interchurch Aid (HIA), LWR’s partner in Northern Afghanistan, cites reasons for Afghanis to have hope in spite of the odds against them.
After decades of war and life under oppressive government regimes, Afghanistan has one of the highest child and maternal mortality rates and one of the lowest life expectancies of any country in the world. Diarrhea alone kills an estimated 85,000 Afghani children each year. In HIA’s main project area, the Khoja Du Kho district of the northern province of Jawzjan, 70 people died of cholera during an outbreak last summer.
HIA’s work in Northern Afghanistan addresses these issues by focusing its goals on improving the long-term healthcare situation. Before HIA began operating in Khoja Du Kho, the district’s health center was not in use. The walls were still standing, but approximately 45,000 people in the surrounding region had no access to a health facility of any kind. HIA reconstructed the health center and helped return it to operation.
HIA has also seen a demand for increased school reconstruction. Thirty percent of the region’s students are girls, and teachers report that more children are seeking enrollment every day. In areas where no formal primary schooling previously existed, there is a serious and continuous need for more books, supplies, and investment in teacher training. The physical infrastructure of schools is largely inadequate, and many schools are operating in tents. When approached by village leaders asking for assistance in school construction, one HIA official reports, “It is an astonishing experience when they report that they do not know what a school is about, but they think it should be a good, useful thing.”
LWR kits are of vital importance to HIA’s work in Northern Afghanistan. HIA hopes to attract students to these new schools by providing School Kits. In a district with so few educational resources, the basic supplies of an LWR School Kit might be enough to encourage attendance in primary schools. LWR Personal Care Kits are distributed both at schools and in the clinics. Baby Care Kits and soap are distributed to female-headed families, as well as to refugees returning home.