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AFG01 - Village of Peace: Partnership Reports

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Report Date: August 8, 2021

Report from BHW Afghanistan Partnership Facilitator 

Recent Events

Over the past year it has been extremely difficult for the Village of Hope team. The ones based in the Netherlands have not been able to travel because of COVID and for the local team members a combination of COVID, the rise in influence of the Taliban and recent withdrawal of American forces have created a perfect storm for them. The remainder of this report is made up of excerpts from recent communications from the team and a few photos.

Centre in Kandahar

impacting communitiesAn essential part of the strategy of the team is to open up a centre in Kandahar. This has been a Muslim stronghold for centuries and in mid-2020 the team felt that it was time to focus more on establishing a team in that area. There are five major reasons for this in their minds: 

1) Radical Islam has been promoted from Kandahar, among others, by Omar, leader of Afghanistan's Taliban.
2) Kandahar has been the centre of rule by various Pashtun kings and presidents. Kandahar has been the spiritual capital of the Afghan kingdom.
3) The production of more than 90% of the world trade in opium is driven out of this area.
4) External political influence from Pakistan comes through the border city of Quetta which is the city where terrorism is triggered. This is nearby to Kandahar.
5) There is a terrible rural sin common everywhere called basjabasy - older men sexually abuse boys and it has a devastating impact on them. 

Change in Leadership 

The Village of Peace organisation has come to a crucial moment in its existence. It is time to hand over some of the responsibilities and activities, which until recently were done in the Netherlands, to the Afghans.  

Anchored in our mission and the foundation of everything we do in Afghanistan is the ownership of the Afghans. The only way in which the negative spiral of violence, poverty and injustice can be broken - and thus sustainable change can be brought about - is if the Afghans themselves take responsibility and take up entrepreneurship. We have been working on this transition from the beginning of Village of Peace, but during this year the process has accelerated.

 In 2019 and 2020 there was a shift in the flow of money. Although the number of gifts has remained the same, more and more money is directly labeled for work in Afghanistan, and less for work in the Netherlands. This has created an urgency from the Netherlands to transfer more work more quickly to the Afghan team. We have also seen that this acceleration works well. In 2020 in particular, the Afghan team has experienced growth. They have matured and are taking over more and more tasks. This makes it possible to keep communication lines short and to manage projects efficiently.

safe placeNew Home 

In Sarpanah, near to Mazar-i-Sharif, a home for widows and orphans has been developed. In July 2020 the community in Sarpanah was completely occupied and the last two widows took up residence. This community offers single women and their children a safe place to live. There is also a place for orphans without parents. In this way we hope that new family structures will emerge.

Food Parcels 

vital ministryThe campaign of distributing food parcels continues. The corona crisis has left many families without income and therefore without food. Many parents struggle to feed their children every day. We have already been able to distribute almost 600 food parcels. That means that about 600 families will not have to worry about their food in the coming months. 

BHW has sent US$3,000 from the COVID relief fund to Village of Peace to assist them with their food distribution programme.  

The Afghan teams are busy preparing and distributing a new round of food parcels. They buy all the products for the packs from local shops in order to support the local economy. This action will continue as long as immediate help is needed.

Peanut Project 

Our goal is still to help Afghans rebuild their country but in a sustainable way, in a way that lasts, even if foreign aid and expertise are lost. We are now working on 'the Peanut Project'. We are building a factory in Afghanistan to make ready-to-eat peanut paste. This paste, officially known as ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF), has been used for years by all international emergency relief organizations against severe acute malnutrition. Regrettably in most cases that paste is imported. And with that, dependence arises. How great will the impact be if the Afghans themselves, locally, sustainably and under their own management, start helping their own malnourished children, relatives and friends?

Chicken Farm

In 2015 two entrepreneurs started a chicken farm in Bamyan. The social enterprise now consists of a whole chain of chicken companies: a feed factory, slaughterhouse, pharmacy and a shop. Early in 2020 a wholesale department in partnership with a local distributor was also added. A local chicken industry has emerged in the Bamyan region, which is known for its good quality. Thanks to this industry, 500 people have a stable income.

It was hard work to keep the company healthy this year as COVID had a huge impact on the economy. Many companies had to close and all business activities came to a standstill. Fortunately, with financial help from the Netherlands, they managed to bridge the worst period and in this way we were able to avoid any layoffs. They did lose many small suppliers who could not manage to stay in business during this challenging time. 

The biggest challenge in 2020 came from an outside company. A competitor tried to steal customers with falsehoods and competitive prices. And that worked. Fortunately for us, the tide turned within a few months: the company turned out to be unable to keep all their price promises and delivered poor quality. Customers returned and in November 2020 we were back at the pre-COVID customer level.

All this again showed how fragile the economy in Bamyan is. In order to become stronger from now on it has been decided to move part of the sales to Kabul by starting a wholesale business there. The partnership with a large local distributor should also ensure a broader sales area.

We are impressed by the Afghan entrepreneurs and their people. They have not been put off by the setbacks but have become even more independent. They came up with the idea of expanding into Kabul and financed the new developments themselves. Chances are that they will succeed: the growth forecast for next year is 20%. 

Very Latest Information 

tough times1) Two weeks ago I got a call from our manager in Mazar-i-Sharif. He said that the Taliban had taken over the area of the Food Security Project. The windows of the building were shot. All employees had been sent home, an attack on the city was expected that night. The question was what should they do? Stay or leave? All roads were controlled by Taliban fighters. The planes were already overbooked by the rich who were given priority.

The following night there were old militias that took up arms again and fought back. Eventually, the Taliban fighters were driven back beyond the borders of Mazar. Now the gardeners can see the fighters from our project across the river. It remains an explosive situation.

2) In Kandahar the VoP worker has quit his job as a teacher. The government has been unable to pay his salary for months. He called our manager that he was out of food. He then took a temporary job as a driver to the border. Every ride the Taliban stops and checks him. Along the way, he sees the terrible consequences of the fighting. Kandahar is no longer safe for him either. He said that many people are running out of food. It was heartbreaking to hear his story.

3) Everywhere we hear that our faithful friends who live in Taliban territory are forced to go to the mosque. Girls' schools are also closing in some places.

The old Muhadjin armies seem to be taking up arms everywhere and are joining forces with the common people to resist the Taliban.

This week we got a call from our manager. He is accused of converting Muslims. This carries the death penalty. He decided not to flee and to take the case to court. We don't know what's going to happen, we've never experienced this before. He also said that the Taliban is very active in the area and that many residents from Bamyan are starting to move to a safer place.

It is also very restless around the orphan and widow project. In the village close to our project, incriminating information was leaked by one person. "This has happened before, but now it's about our manager's faith." 


Personal Stories

Sarah (name changed) 

I was 13-years-old when I was forced by my father to marry a 55-year-old man. Together we had three children. After several years of marriage my husband became ill and died. I was left with the children and without a job, with no income, and with only the support of people who occasionally gave me food. Sometimes rich men offered me money or food in exchange for sex. My father tried to marry me off to another man who was 47 years old. He already had a wife and eight children, but I didn't want that.

When I heard about the Village of Peace community, I sent a letter of request to the government. Then the governor of Yakawlang introduced me to the team.

My family still wants me to marry a younger man but those men already have a wife and children. They will not treat me and my children kindly or take care of me. They want me to join in for sex. Without this community, that is what I would have to do.

Supnah (name changed) 

As a 14-year-old girl I was married off to a man over 30 years older. Completely according to tradition, I came to live with my in-laws. The mutual atmosphere was not pleasant. I struggled to keep myself going. Then I heard about the Human Development Training. I loved to go there because there I was told that you can learn to interact with others in a different way. The Afghan trainers told many stories and then we practiced role-playing. I told about the lessons at home and everyone liked to listen. My husband has really changed too. He has stopped lying and now understands better that holding grudges doesn't help either.


changing livesThe best way to combat malnutrition and an underlying disease like anemia is to teach women to grow their own food. This is done through the High Diversity Gardening (HDG) program. One of the participating women is QG (age 50). She is the mother of seven sons and a daughter.

“Raising a family with many children in Afghanistan is quite difficult. I have had to overcome many difficulties in my life. But now my children are grown and I have discovered the Village of Peace program. In the past I often had no money for food. That had a huge impact on me: I was suffering from nervous tension and also had high blood pressure. That is why I am so enthusiastic about your program in our village and I would like to help where I can. That is why I offered a room in my house as a training centre. In the meantime, I have learned a lot. I didn't know much about vitamins and I cooked with too much oil and salt. We grow a lot of onions and tomatoes in our gardens and my sons help out. We even manage to grow more than we need so we earn some extra money. We feel much healthier, can work harder and our financial situation has really improved. I am very grateful for this program and I love all my trainers!”


Partnership's Influence within the Community

In May 2021 Kabul was rocked by a major attack on a girls' school that killed 90 students. Three bombs exploded at the entrance of the school, just as the school was closing. Many students saw the drama happen before their very eyes.

Two psychologists from the Village of Peace team in Kabul have been involved in this De Sayed al-Shuhada school for several years, providing food and counselling to dozens of families. One of them says: “The attack had such an impact. Many students saw everything happen before their very eyes. Suddenly there are many empty spaces in the classroom. Good friends who are suddenly gone. That has a huge impact on these girls.”

The major Afghan television channel Tolonews made a report at the school about the work that our counsellors do, along with many other psychologists who have offered their help spontaneously. 


Ideas for the Future

Here is an example of a new project they want to start in 2021 - a wood processing project in Kabul.

There are many young people in Kabul who live on the street. Some have lost both parents or their father. They are on their own to generate income for shelter and food, sometimes also for the whole family. Through a family member of one of our managers we have the opportunity to give street youth a chance to find work and education. The experience is already there and so are the clients. Despite the war in the country, there is a lot of demand for office furniture and other products. There are opportunities here to offer the boys education and work, which sometimes gives hope to an entire family.

Entrepreneur 'A' opened the doors of his woodworking company. Besides making beautiful furniture, he wants to train young unemployed teenagers to become craftsmen. 'A' says, “I learned the trade in Iran. I like to work with my hands. I am very grateful to my current boss, who has promised to help me by passing assignments. What my boss does and has done for me, I want to pass that on to others.”

'A' is a local tradesman committed to solving the problems of his country and city and wants to use this social enterprise to train young men to become woodworkers. An added bonus is that his current boss supports his initiative and has already promised to help him. “There are more than enough talented guys. Only, there is almost no education and there are too few jobs. With my company I want to contribute to a better society.”


Current Issues and Challenges

The great challenge is what will happen now that the Taliban is taking over control of vast areas of the country. Will those in authority be able to continue their support of the programs? Will local business people still be willing to train young people and employ them? Will existing relationships be able to continue? It is all up in the air now and there are few moderates to limit the extremism. 


Prayer and Praise Points

The team that is focused on Afghanistan are great prayers. There are numerous points for prayer in their communications:

1) Pray for the influence of leader Omar in Kandahar to be dismantled.
2) Pray that our Afghan partners in Kandahar will destroy the influence of the historic moment when Omar donned the cloak of Muhammad as a means of extending his power.
3) Pray that the treasury filled with money earned from opium income will be used for the poorest of the poor.
4) The widow and orphan project in Bamyan has been running for almost a year and it is time to start a second project in Mazar, and who knows where else.
5) That the Taliban people will have visions and dreams about Jesus and they will turn from violence.
6) That the people would no longer be dependent on American or foreign troops but that they want to take ownership of their own land. That they will defend and liberate their own territory from oppressors.



This is a vital partnership. It will require ongoing investment and a lot of praying. Our partners on the ground face death every day because of what they are doing as the Taliban grip tightens. I fear that some will lose their lives.