Therese Wynn-Davies, a member of the Digital Fundraising team, speaks to Niamh Furey, Programme Officer for Afghanistan.
Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, our conversation took place over a video call; Niamh in Derry, Northern Ireland, and Therese in West Sussex, England. Geographically, many miles between them, but with a common goal in mind - working together at CAFOD to improve the lives of people around the world.
We have been overwhelmed by the response from our supporters to help the Afghan people. At the time of writing, we have raised more than £1.1 million and we cannot begin to thank you enough for what you have done and what you have helped make happen.
But, sadly, the situation in Afghanistan is not straightforward and the complexities are far from over. Since the Taliban took control of the country in August 2021, Afghanistan continues to plunge deeper into crisis. The impacts of several years of conflict and drought have been made worse by the takeover. As a result, there have been massive increases in food prices and many people just do not have enough to eat. Families have been forced to leave their homes, and women and girls fear for their futures.
“It has been heartbreaking,” Niamh says. “I am sitting here, very comfortably in my house, continuing with my normal life, but only this morning we were on the phone to one of our partners in Afghanistan, where they are experiencing temperatures of around -8C or -9C and people don’t have basic things, food or heating. Just on a human level it’s very difficult not to feel so guilty when we’re faced with what the daily reality is like for these people.”
There are many problems to deal with
As you may have seen on the news, the current situation in Afghanistan is getting worse. One of the biggest issues CAFOD, and other charities, faced initially was getting money into the country to help people who have lost everything.
When the Taliban took over the country, many banking facilities were closed and financial assets frozen. This caused the Afghan economy to go into completely collapse. The knock-on effect from this means the poorest suffer most, many people like doctors and teachers have not been paid a salary since July 2021.
At CAFOD, our fundraising team keep supporters informed on what is happening in the world and ask them if they can help by donating. Our response teams, made up of people like Niamh, work with our trusted partners to get money to the people who need it most. The banking situation has made things difficult but, fortunately, we are able to get charity funds into the country, and help is now there, quite literally on the ground.
There is hope
One of our partners has now been able to support almost 1,000 extremely vulnerable families in rural Herat province. These families have children who were on the brink of death due to hunger but your donations have helped feed them.
Another project, launched alongside a local Afghan partner working in a community of Balkh province, has supplied food baskets to 350 households. Hundreds more baskets of food will be delivered in the next few weeks, and our partners will reach thousands more families in the coming months.
You are providing so much
“Our supporters are making a huge difference,” says Niamh. “There aren’t enough ways to say thank you. It just shows the generosity and the love that you have to help. Your response to our appeal was far higher than we expected, and we can help so many people because of this.”
Although a lot has been done, there is still more to do. Right now, we need to help people survive by focusing on essentials including the supply of cash, heating and food to get them through the harsh winter.
Longer term, we are looking at the issues Afghan people are facing, and particularly the rights of women and girls. Niamh says: “This is a really big concern for us, particularly as a young woman myself. There are Afghan people my age who have grown up with rights and, overnight, the Taliban has come into power and they now have to adapt to a different way of life. We will be working with our partners to support communities to make a living, to access education and to know their human rights.
For now, however, it is about survival. Helping babies and children go to bed with food in their bellies, feeling warm and safe. You, our supporters, are making this happen and we couldn’t be more grateful for your help. Thank you.