COVID-19 Aid for Education in Afghanistan

by Bamyan Foundation
COVID-19 Aid for Education in Afghanistan
COVID-19 Aid for Education in Afghanistan
COVID-19 Aid for Education in Afghanistan
COVID-19 Aid for Education in Afghanistan
COVID-19 Aid for Education in Afghanistan
COVID-19 Aid for Education in Afghanistan
COVID-19 Aid for Education in Afghanistan
COVID-19 Aid for Education in Afghanistan
COVID-19 Aid for Education in Afghanistan
COVID-19 Aid for Education in Afghanistan
COVID-19 Aid for Education in Afghanistan
COVID-19 Aid for Education in Afghanistan
COVID-19 Aid for Education in Afghanistan
COVID-19 Aid for Education in Afghanistan
COVID-19 Aid for Education in Afghanistan
COVID-19 Aid for Education in Afghanistan
COVID-19 Aid for Education in Afghanistan
COVID-19 Aid for Education in Afghanistan
COVID-19 Aid for Education in Afghanistan
COVID-19 Aid for Education in Afghanistan
Aid distribution in Daykundi
Aid distribution in Daykundi

Dear Friends,

It seems only five hospitals in Afghanistan still offer COVID-19 services with 33 others closed since the collapse of the Afghan government in August 2021. Though official statistics on COVID-19 rates are no longer available due to the collapse of the health system, it appears that the Omicron variant has been spreading fast this winter. The World Health Organization had promised the necessary kits by the end of February.

Though Omicron can be devastating in Afghanistan, where vaccination rates are low; however, people have been dealing with more urgent issues, such as political chaos and severe shortage of food and basic necessities during this harsh winter. The urgency is more severe in communities, who have been stigmatized due to race and religion for generations. Hazaras, who constitute about 20% of the Afghan population and easily distinguishable among other Afghans due to their Asiatic features, have been bearing the brunt. A common indicator of race, social status and privilege is facial features in Afghanistan. Those with Middle Eastern facial features (Pashtuns and Tajiks) are among the privileged groups while those with Asiatic features have been subjected to racial discrimination, marginalization and relegated to second class citizens from the founding of the state of Afghanistan. Since the Taliban takeover, the situation is further aggravated for the Hazara community due to the Hazara’s overwhelming support for the United States’ intervention in the past 20 years. The Taliban movement is a toxic combination of Pashtun nationalism and militant Sunni Islamic fundamentalism, and their hostility towards Shia Hazaras is widely known and documented since the rise of the ethnoreligious movement in the 1990s. These days, in a form of punitive measure and collective punishment, the Taliban and their supporters are sidelining Hazaras from the aid distribution by major aid organizations such as United Nations Assistance Mission for Afghanistan (UNAMA), World Food Program (WFP) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), according to Hazara community leaders and civil society members on the ground. In addition to forced displacements and land grabs, Hazaras have been the target of extortion by Taliban leadership and rank and file. Ismael, a Hazara businessman interviewed for an article published by George Washington University (GWU), shared that he was asked to pay a 1000 USD bribe to a Taliban officer to register his car that should have only cost approximately 150 USD. When asked why he was charged such a large sum, the Talib officer replied that, “a Hazara should be thankful that a Talib is processing his vehicle’s registration at the cost of dollars and not killing him” (please see the embedded article, Risks Facing Hazaras in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan under Links).

At a small scale and within Bamyan Foundation’s capabilities in terms of resources and fundraising, the Foundation has helped streamline the Hazara diaspora efforts to help our at-risk community in Afghanistan. In collaboration with Baba Mazari Foundation and community leaders on the ground, our teams distributed cash assistance to some of the most vulnerable families that were identified through a survey. From the total humanitarian aid package of 33,260 USD (more details will be provided in our humanitarian aid project), 7400 USD was from COVID-19 funds that was raised through this project and a generous grant from GlobalGiving’s Coronavirus Relief. 

From the 7400 USD, 5000 USD was distributed as cash assistance to 50 vulnerable families (9850 AFN per family) in Nili and Shahrestan districts of Daykundi. The recipients were displaced widows who had lost their husbands to recent violence, women provides of their families and those forcibly displaced with their lands and property confiscated. 

2400 USD was distributed as 10,085 AFN stipends to 24 faculty and staff at Rahnaward High school. The teachers and staff have been working on voluntary basis since the Kabul collapse and this aid was crucial in light of increased Omicron rates in the country.

We are immensely grateful for the generous grants from GlobalGiving’s Coronavirus Relief Fund and the kindness of our supporters for this lifesaving assistance.

These are difficult times for people of Afghanistan and with your support, we will continue providing crucial assistance to inaccessible communities and those sidelined by major aid organizations. We will also advocate that the major aid organizations develop a balanced approach to reach all Afghan communities in a fair and balanced manner.

Thank you for your continuous support!

faculty and staff at Rahnaward High School
faculty and staff at Rahnaward High School
School year begins at Rahnaward High School
School year begins at Rahnaward High School

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Internally Displaced Family
Internally Displaced Family

Amid the health and socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19, Afghanistan is facing a humanitarian crisis this winter that is deteriorating every day. Tens of thousands of Afghans are at high risk of famine and the mercy of winter weather. The situation is most dangerous for those communities stigmatized by race and religion and who are systematically targeted by extremist groups. Hazaras, easily distinguishable due to their Asiatic features, are among these groups and continue to face attacks. In October alone, about 230 Hazaras died in targeted attacks in Hazara mosques in Kunduz and Kandahar and in other targeted attacks in Dashe Barchi, a Hazara slum in Kabul. Thousands have been forcibly displaced from their homes in Daikundi, Urozgan, Helmand, Herat, Kandahar and Balkh. They are without basic necessities and at the mercy of harsh winter, famine, and systematic attacks that pose serious threat and urgency.

After the collapse of the Afghan government and the ensuing chaos, Bamyan Foundation lost important connections on the ground as networks dispersed and individuals and their families had to flee. However, the Hazara diaspora communities in the United States, Australia and Europe have sprung into action to help Hazara communities in Afghanistan and refugees arriving in Pakistan. In the past few months, the Foundation has worked to help streamline these efforts from the diaspora to:  

(a) elevate individual-level efforts among the diaspora into an organizational level;

(b) create partnerships or a coalition of vetted grassroots Hazara and broader Afghan diaspora organizations in the West and community leaders on the ground to collaborate on humanitarian and educational initiatives; and 

(c) connect with new sponsors/donors, grant makers, and partners in the United states to mitigate a humanitarian catastrophe among the Hazaras of Afghanistan and refugees in Pakistan.

While some large organizations recognize this same need, the Foundation and our grassroots partners have the ability to identify and distribute aid directly to the vulnerable Hazara population in Afghanistan. Because of volunteer nature of our organization and our small size, donations are passed on with minimal overhead and administrative fees. 

It is encouraging that the diaspora communities have begun to collaborate. The Foundation’s grassroots partners and community leaders have already distributed aid in Kabul, Kandahar, Bamyan, Daikundi, Ghanzi, Herat, and Uruzgan on a limited scale. With this crucial avenue of support and with financial contributions, we can play an effective role in mitigating a humanitarian disaster among Afghanistan’s most marginalized and at risk community. 

The Foundation has identified approximately 3,000 families in Kabul and thousands more displaced in the provinces facing severe food shortages and at the mercy of cold winter. Our initial aid package will cover approximately 250 families in Kabul and Daikundi in Afghanistan and refugees in Quetta, Pakistan. In collaboration with our diaspora partners and community leaders on the ground, we will provide either cash assistance or a family aid package that will include rice, flour, cooking oil, and wood or coal for heating.

The impact of this support can be life-saving for these 250 families as they try to survive the coming months, but the urgency and need on the ground is far greater. With your help, we hope to provide a larger aid package in January to reach more at-risk families.  

Thank you for your support in these difficult times.

Timor Karimy + Bamyan Foundation Team

Displaced and ordered to leave their homes
Displaced and ordered to leave their homes

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Marefat classroom
Marefat classroom

Dear Friends,

Afghanistan is going through a surge in COVID-19 infection rates, also referred to as the third wave, that began in late spring this year. Once again, the pandemic has disrupted the academic year. The Ministry of Education issued a directive to close schools on May 28. The schools finally reopened on July 24. 

The Delta variant appears to be driving the surge. Among the factors that are contributing to the high infection rates is a lack of adherence to public health guidance, such as social distancing and wearing masks. Moreover, there is shame and stigma associated with contracting the virus that reduces reporting to the authorities. According to Reuters, 1.5% of the population has been vaccinated so far. 

Furthermore, lack of access to oxygen is one of the main drivers of the high mortality rate among COVID-19 patients. The most marginalized have the least access to such life-saving equipment. We are exploring options and communicating with community leaders in Kabul to raise funds to buy oxygen tanks/capsules for the most vulnerable segments of our communities. 

As for our schools, infection rates have been lower in Ghor and Bamyan compared to Kabul. Once again, our immediate attention is focused on helping our largest partner, Marefat High School, located in Kabul, stay solvent during these difficult times. Besides scholarships, we will provide stipends to teachers/staff at Marefat. We will provide more details in the next report.

In addition to the pandemic, the security situation has deteriorated in Afghanistan due to the ongoing US troop withdrawal and increased attacks and rapid advance of the Taliban. They have captured more territory in recent weeks, which is cause for serious concern for all peace-loving Afghans, particularly the Hazaras. Thousands have fled their areas to neighboring districts. There is a growing sense of anxiety and fear in Hazara communities due to Taliban threats, and in light of the Taliban massacre of the Hazaras in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Though all Afghans have suffered from terrorism and Taliban attacks, Hazaras are systematically targeted on the basis of ethnicity and religion. Despite the school reopening directive on July 24 by the Ministry of Education, it is unlikely that schools will resume in the recently captured areas. 

Women are another major target of the Taliban and other associated terrorist groups. They are the most vulnerable group when there is a spike in violence and instability. In areas that the Taliban have recently seized, unverified reports indicate that the Taliban are demanding that local leaders provide information on unmarried girls and unmarried/widowed women ages 15-40, according to Afghan news outlets Etialatroz and Hashte Sobh. Reports further indicate that women are fleeing to neighboring districts and provinces to escape the advancing Taliban. Again, this developing dynamic will have serious implications for youth education, particularly girls’ education. Those girls who were dreaming of universities only a few months ago are at-risk of being married early to relatives - just to avoid Taliban capture.

We will be in close communication with the community leaders in Kabul and other provinces in Afghanistan and explore avenues to provide support in the form of teacher stipends in our schools, oxygen supplies to those who are suffering from COVID-19 infections, and relief to those who have been displaced—in particular, women—by Taliban attacks. 

Your support will make a huge difference! Thank you.

Rahnaward School Meeting
Rahnaward School Meeting
Students at Baba High School
Students at Baba High School
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Students and faculty during an event at Marefat
Students and faculty during an event at Marefat

Dear Friends,

COVID-19 resulted to significant challenges in our partner schools in 2020. Thanks to your support, we provided a lifeline in the form of stipends to teachers and staff, and scholarships to students that helped keep our partner schools solvent. Detailed information on the usage of the funds were provided in the previous quarterly reports (please see the first quarter and the second quarter reports).

Thanks to your generous support, our partner schools were able to keep their trained and valued teachers and staff. They are very grateful to you for being there during a difficult time. We have heard from some of them, and we would like to share their stories with you.

Mariam:

Mariam has been teaching at Marefat since 2006 after obtaining her degree in Economics. Being the only breadwinner for her family, the school closure due to the pandemic (March 2020 – August 2020) was a challenging time for her and her family of four. She is appreciative of the support from the Foundation and recounts that the stipend was the only income she had to provide basic sustenance for her family.   

Masoma:

Masoma has been teaching at Marefat since 2004. She has a Masters degree in International Relations and would like to start her PhD in the future. She is thankful to the Foundation as the stipend helped her with the basic needs, i.e. food and medicine during the lockdown/school closure.

Nadir:

Nadir is the director of Exams and Evaluation at Marefat. Being a father of five, he moved his family to his home province during the lockdown. He was glad to see the stipend in his bank account as he was “suffering from shortage of money in his home province to provide for his family”. 

Mohammad:

Mohammad, a father of three, has been an employee at Marefat since 2003, when the school had moved from Pakistan to Afghanistan. Mohammad was featured as the mechanic in Jeffery Stern’s book “The Last Thousand” and he is known and endeared to the Marefat family. Mohammad appreciates the assistance from the Foundation and recounts his thoughts on the pandemic and the school closure, “I wish such a nightmare is never repeated in one’s life”.

Chaman A:

Chaman is 65 years old and one of the senior employees at Marefat. He provides janitorial services and supports his family of five. His daughter is a student at Marefat. Chaman is grateful to the Foundation and our supporters to help him and his family during a time of need. 

Once again, we are grateful for your generosity to support the Bamyan Foundation's "COVID-19 Aid for Education in Afghanistan". Together, we helped mitigate the worst impacts of the pandemic at our schools.

Students taking an exam
Students taking an exam
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class in session at Baba
class in session at Baba

Dear Friends and Supporters,

We are very grateful for your generous support to keep our partner schools solvent during this challenging year. With your help, we provided a lifeline to our schools, played a crucial role in the education of marginalized children, and supported the livelihoods of the schools’ teachers and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Private schools play an important role in the education sector in Afghanistan. Approximately 500,000 youth attend private schools, as the public school system is not able to accommodate them. In addition to their benefit for students, private schools have created livelihoods for nearly 5,000 teachers and staff. These schools operate on incoming student tuition to pay for teacher and staff salaries and administration of the schools. At the onset of COVID-19 in March 2020, it was apparent that our partner schools may not survive due to the school closures and lack of revenue. Their meagre emergency funds were running out at a fast pace. 

Our schools are located in the marginalized Hazara communities. Our largest school, Marefat – which has been recognized globally for its impact reaching thousands of students over 20 years – was particularly at risk. Marefat serves approximately 3,200 students and employs 210 faculty and staff. With no incoming tuition, it was on the verge of collapse. Bamyan Foundation worked with Marefat to help the school maintain its faculty and staff through “COVID-19 Aid for Education in Afghanistan” on GlobalGiving and “The Initiative to Save Marefat” on the Foundation’s website.

With our other partner schools facing similar challenges, the Foundation employed a similar strategy with respect to three other schools: Rahnaward in Ghor, Baba in Bamyan and our program with ROYA. 

In total, with your support, we were able to provide $55,010.3 as stipends to the teachers, scholarships to students, support to the most needy families of our students and provided funds for masks, sanitizers and soap. Additional detail on the use of these funds is below. 

School Updates: 

Marefat High School (Kabul):

Thanks to your generosity, the Foundation provided an aid package for the amount of $39,328 in the academic year 2020 to Marefat. The following is the breakdown:

  • $10,677 was disbursed as $65 stipends for 164 faculty & staff in July 2020.
  • The exchange rate at the time: $1=76.5 AFN (Afghan currency)
  • $11,437.5 was disbursed as $65 stipends for 175 faculty & staff in August 2020
  • School reopened on August 22, 2020 
  • Upon school reopening, $15,301 awarded as scholarships for 92 students (48 girls and 44 boys)
  • $654 was disbursed as $65 stipends for five faculty/staff for the months of September and October
  • Altogether, $38,069.5 was spent as stipends and scholarships
  • A remaining $1,258.5 will be allocated as either stipends for staff or towards scholarships in the academic year 2021
  • The Foundation covered the bank transfer fees.

Rahnaward High School (Ghor):

There are 520 students and 23 teachers and staff at Rahnaward. Fortunately, the COVID-19 rates have not been too high in the mountainous and remote Lal and Sarjangal district of Ghor province where Rahnaward is located. However, with the approaching winter, there is concern for a spike. Similar to Marefat and other schools across Afghanistan, Rahnaward closed its doors between March 5, 2020 and August 22, 2020 as per the directive of the Afghan Ministry of Education. Thanks to our collective efforts, the Foundation provided $10,111 to Rahnaward in the academic year 2020, as follows:

  • $ 8,481 as scholarships for 88 students (48 girls and 40 boys)
  • $1,430 as a one-time $62 stipend for 23 teachers and staff 
  • S200 for soap, sanitizer and masks
  • The Foundation covered the bank transfer fees.

Baba High School (Bamyan):

There are 430 students and 28 teachers and staff at Baba. Similar to Marefat and Rahnaward, Baba remained closed between March 5, 2020 and August 22,2020 as per the directive of the Afghan Ministry of Education. Three staff were reporting to work to look after the facility during the closure. Thanks to your generosity, the Foundation provided $3,896 to Baba in the academic year 2020, as follows:

  • $3,501 as scholarships for 23 students (14 girls and 9 boys)
  • $195 as one-time $65 stipend for the 3 staffs
  • $200 for sanitizer, soap and masks
  • The Foundation covered the bank transfer fees

ROYA (Kabul):

The Foundation has been supporting the former nine child laborers through partnership with ROYA since 2017. The Foundation provided $1,675.30 as follows:

  • $1,198.3 as scholarships for the nine children (3 girls and 6 boys)
  • $405 as support for the families of the nine children 
  • $72 as Bank transfer fee

We have recently learned that the Afghan Ministry of Education has ordered school closures on December 5, 2020 due to the likelihood of COVID-19 surge in winter. The schools may remain closed until March 2021. Further, the nominated/acting minister of education was not confirmed by the Afghan parliament, and the new minister may have a different roadmap for school opening/closures. We will update you as we receive quarterly updates from our schools.

We thank you for your support of these schools serving the marginalized Hazara community. The people we serve are survivors. Decades of discrimination and marginalization combined with targeted terrorist attacks in recent years have made them incredibly resilient. We will get through this pandemic together and come out stronger because of it. 

classroom sanitized at Baba
classroom sanitized at Baba
outdoor class at Rahnaward
outdoor class at Rahnaward
class in session at Rahnaward
class in session at Rahnaward
our students at Baba
our students at Baba
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Organization Information

Bamyan Foundation

Location: Washington, DC - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @bamyanfdn
Project Leader:
Timor Karimy
Washington, DC United States
$29,979 raised of $50,000 goal
 
195 donations
$20,021 to go
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