Rumi, an Afghan-born poet, wrote, “Where there is destruction, there is hope for treasures.” And we find these treasures again and again in Christian Aid. Every gift, no matter the size, changes lives. Crops are replanted, freshwater ponds are built, and modern methods of storing and preparing food are tested. Sometimes the need is too great and urgent. Sometimes the path to resilience is slow and steady.
But Afghanistan is different. The country is on the brink of disaster. Families are selling clothes from their rooms and children from their beds to buy food. Barefoot babies are starving to death in the snow, pregnant mothers giving birth to babies who may not survive. This is the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. It did not come as a surprise. Since the Taliban took control six months ago, international sanctions and severe winters have exacerbated the crisis. But in the ruins, hope remains. The United Nations and the international development community have been working behind the scenes for months to ensure that aid reaches those who need it most. In December, the UN Security Council voted to exempt humanitarian aid from economic sanctions, allowing aid to flow more freely. And Christian Aid has lobbied the UK government to bring this exception into UK law. The Scottish Government has also shown generosity to the people of Afghanistan by sending funds through its Humanitarian Emergency Fund to appeal to Christian Aid, Islamic Relief, Tear Funds and the Disaster Emergency Committee. Their willingness to learn and respond to complex needs has been gratifying.
Christian Aid has already provided food and hygiene packages to more than 17,000 people and our goal is to reach more people, including the homeless, host communities, and returnees. Despite the challenges, we are providing people with winter blankets, hygiene kits and essential food packages for babies, pregnant and lactating mothers.
Sharifa lives in Nangarhar Province with her husband and six children under the age of 10. Her husband and some of her children worked in a local brick factory. But their sources of income have dried up since production stopped a few months ago. Some weeks they have enough money for bread and green tea, some weeks they don’t. Sharifa has received an emergency food package which includes flour, rice, cooking oil, pulses, sugar and salt. This is a small comfort in the midst of uncertain days. “We are very scared and worried about our future. I feel completely hopeless. My family has nothing to dream about as things get worse and worse,” she said. We are worried that we will not survive the winter. We do not have warm clothes, jackets or socks or any fuel to keep warm. In the past it was difficult for us but now we are on the brink of disaster.
Christian Aid – a strong global movement of people, churches and partners – believes that poverty is an outrage against humanity. But we also believe that there is hope for treasures in the ruins of Afghanistan. And we believe that together we can restore hope to despair.
If you are able to support the Afghanistan Crisis Appeal, please consider donating today: christianaid.org.uk
Lian Cleland, Communications Officer, Christian Aid Scotland