This is an unusual post for me I know but it may be one of the most important. I want to explain to you how and why I’m trying to support women in Afghanistan through supporting the work of the Linda Norgrove Foundation.
For those of you who don’t me, for the last 8 years I’ve been working as a women’s personal development coach. Earlier in the year a colleague asked if I’d be prepared to input into a project with the Linda Norgrove Foundation. The focus of the project was to provide coaching to women studying at University in Kabul.
You can find out more about the Linda Norgrove Foundation through the link above. But briefly, the Foundation was set up in memory of Linda Norgrove. After spending many years working in Afghanistan Linda was taken hostage in Kunar in 2010. She was killed by a US hand grenade in an attempted rescue mission. Her parents set up the Foundation to continue her work. You can read about Linda and her work here. Obviously an inspiring and brave woman.
If you check out the Foundation website you will see the range of projects they fund including: supporting young women through medical school (over 40 to date) and other degree programmes such as midwifery and nursing; funding surgery for children from remote rural areas of Afghanistan; supporting projects to promote children’s wellbeing including supporting the costs of an all weather football pitch for street-working children and a mobile mini-circus.
A different kind of reality
The women I coached and the challenges they were facing will stay with me for ever. The right to study at University in the UK is something we perhaps take for granted. It was something these women had fought hard for. All were driven by their commitment to improve the lives of women in Afghanistan. For some their wish was to act as a role model for their daughters.
It is hard to imagine the challenges they faced. We coached via WhatsApp and most had to travel to an internet cafe, not having internet access at home. A journey which in itself was not so easy. Constant power outages meant limited time for home study. The cultural and familial expectations about the role of women challenged their ability to combine work, study and home life. During the time we were coaching gunmen entered Kabul University and killed 22 students and injured more. A month earlier 24 people had been killed at another education centre in Kabul. If you are studying currently or have benefitted from a University education can you imagine studying under these conditions?
One of the young women explained how hard it was to meet like minded women and role models due to needing to be careful about who you connect with and what information you share. Can you imagine, if you provide mentorship to colleagues or are a mentee, what it would feel like to have to be so guarded about who you connect with and what you talk about?
How can you help?
As the news from Afghanistan has unraveled over the last few days a group of us are thinking of these and other women in Afghanistan. The Linda Norgrove Foundation is working flat out to try to ensure the safety of the staff they employ in Kabul. They are committed to continuing the work of the Foundation a part of which will be helping the women they have supported to complete their degrees.
A group of us, in Lancashire and North Tyneside, are doing a 10K walk on 2nd & 3rd October to raise money for the Foundation. If you would like to sponsor us here’s the link to our fundraising page:
Thank you for taking the time to read this post, it is appreciated.
Image by Isaak-akexandre-karslian via Unsplash.