As we reflect on the recent one-year anniversary marking the dramatic political crisis in Afghanistan, we wanted to share an update on the work that over 6,500 people so generously supported. It has made all the difference in the lives of thousands of Afghan families during this challenging time, through family health services, education, and emergency supplies. Much of our work over the last year has been made possible through the support and kindness of individuals.
You enabled us to serve tens of thousands of women and their families at the clinic. You helped us this past year to provide essential food and supplies for our weavers and their families. You made it possible for our primary schools to reopen and support families in a time of great uncertainty.
- 132 students returned to primary school in Murad Khani, and 108 pre-school and primary school students in Shashpul and Dragon Valley (95 girls, 13 boys) with minimal disruption to their studies
- Emergency food security supplies were distributed to weaver households over six monthly distributions in the Bamiyan Valley
- Clinic patient visits doubled in 2022, totaling more than 170,000 patient visits to date (over 66% women)
To read more about the work that you have so kindly supported visit this link.
A special message to all those who donated to our Afghanistan Appeal, from Shoshana in Afghanistan.
Thank you so much, from all of us at Turquoise Mountain.
We’re excited to announce that the five winners of our prize draw have now been randomly selected from over 100 entries – they will be hearing from us directly about receiving their unique pieces of calligraphy. Congratulations to them, and enormous thanks again to all of you.
And with many thanks again, we will now be concluding this Crowdfunder campaign. We are profoundly grateful to the over 6,300 supporters whose generosity has allowed us to continue our work in Afghanistan from the darkest days last August through the uncertainty of the last few months, and up to the present moment with its continuing challenges. Your support has meant an enormous amount to all of us at Turquoise Mountain – and we have exceeded our initial fundraising goal many times over with the help of so many friends, new and old.
The funds raised here will continue to support education, healthcare, livelihoods and incomes, and food security in Afghanistan for many months to come – and we will continue to post updates here and on our website.
We would welcome you all to join our mailing list here, and if you or your friends wish to contribute further you can always do so here.
Thank you so very much again, from everyone at Turquoise Mountain
We are so grateful for the extraordinary outpouring of support we’ve received over the last few months, and have been hoping to find a way to express our gratitude to each of you.
With that in mind, we have brought back from Kabul five unique pieces of calligraphy and miniature painting made in recent weeks by talented students at the Turquoise Mountain Institute for Afghan Arts and Architecture. These artworks will be sent to five supporters of this Crowdfunder campaign. We wish we could give a token of thanks to each of the 6,000 of you - but we hope these unique works of art can express some of the immense gratitude that the students in Kabul – and all of us at Turquoise Mountain – feel to each and every one of you.
If you would like to be entered in a random drawing for one of these artworks, you can input your name here. Please note that if you chose not to opt in to our mailing list, we will not use your contact details for anything beyond contacting you if you win one of the artworks.
A picture of the artworks recently brought back from Kabul, below.
Update on Afghanistan – February 2022
In this moment of extreme difficulty for Afghanistan, we are making a real difference in the lives of thousands of Afghan families. Thank you for your support in making that possible.
Afghanistan is plunging into an ever deeper crisis. With the combination of ongoing political upheaval, and growing famine rooted in drought and exacerbated by recent turmoil and the usual harsh winter, nearly all of the families we work with are struggling. But the communities we work with are also incredibly resilient, and with your generous support, and the hard work and dedication of our over 200 Afghan staff, we are finding ways to continue to provide much-needed services – in health, education, and food distribution.
The current economic crisis is having a particularly devastating impact on the weaver and artisan communities with whom we work. Using the Food Insecurity Experience Scale, Turquoise Mountain and our fair-trade partner Label STEP surveyed Afghan weavers in the north in mid-November to understand the experiences and needs of their households. Our survey found that:
- 98.9% of weavers were worried they would not have enough to eat
- 100% were unable to eat healthy food
- 93.3% did not have access to all food types
- 93.3% had skipped a meal
- 98.9% ate less than they thought they should
- 96.67% of households ran out of food
- 98.89% were hungry but did not eat
- 98.89% went without eating a whole day
With your support, we have been distributing emergency food supplies to the families of weavers with whom we have worked for years. This effort has focused initially on Bamiyan in Afghanistan’s central highlands, where food insecurity is particularly severe (due to roads blocked by weather, temperatures ranging from -5C to -20C, fragile supply chains, and inflation and rising prices in local markets). We have already been able to reach people during the heart of a harsh and challenging winter – and these efforts will continue over the next six months. We have so far distributed a family package consisting of food staples and blankets to weaver households in Bamiyan (all on the basis of a needs-based assessment so that we could understand exactly what families want and need). These are weavers we usually work with, and due to the current political upheaval and closure of Kabul airport, fewer new carpet orders have been able to put into production. This unfortunately results in limited salaries for weavers (who are majority women and often breadwinners).
In addition, your generosity has allowed us to continue to run our primary schools and community health clinic – providing much needed healthcare to individuals in extreme need.
We are also continuing separately to pursue our longer-term mission, providing training and business support to artisans. This is particularly crucial for women (99% of the artisans we work with in the carpet industry are women), who have the skills to be the breadwinners for their family, even during prolonged periods of uncertainty and instability, such as the pandemic and the current crisis.
Cumulatively, these programmes support thousands of families. The food distributions and basic healthcare and education services in particular, which make an immense and immediate difference to families, would not be possible without your support. Our Afghan and international staff remain fully engaged in supporting communities day in day out. But that work is only possible with your support and the support of others around the world.
Thank you so much again for your compassion, empathy and generosity.
TURQUOISE MOUNTAIN’S HISTORY IN AFGHANISTAN
Although Turquoise Mountain is now focused on the humanitarian emergency, our programs in Afghanistan are long-standing and have been wide-ranging, across education, livelihoods, and heritage.
Since 2006, we are proud that we have:
- Trained over 6,000 artisans and builders, many of them to mastery-level in their craft
- Restored over 150 historic buildings, including an entire neighbourhood in Kabul’s Old City (pictured left), winning a UNESCO heritage award
- Brought over $12,000,000 in traditional crafts to market
- Built over 50 small artisan businesses, many of which are run by women
- Provided community-focused health care facilitating more than 170,000 patient visits
- Provided primary education and heritage classes to hundreds of children each year
- We have shared this work with the wider global community - through major exhibitions and public programs at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC, Beit Al-Qur’an in Bahrain, the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Leighton House in London, the World Economic Forum at Davos, and the Venice Biennale – reaching millions of visitors.
Pictured above: a restored building in the Old City of Kabul (left); an artisan completing a piece of jewellery (right)
Update on Turquoise Mountain Afghanistan Programmes – October 2021
In this moment of extreme difficulty for Afghanistan, we have an opportunity to make a real difference. Thank you for making that possible.
Your support has enabled us to resume the most important services for our communities, reopening schools and clinics, and supporting thousands of vulnerable people through education, incomes and healthcare at this most challenging and difficult time.
One of our parents writes “When the government collapsed, and all the schools closed, we felt helpless. The morale of the whole family was hit hard. The reopening of the Turquoise Mountain school has made the children very happy - and all the mothers too! The children are desperate not to miss any more classes.”
Above: Students at our re-opened primary school
With your support, we have:
● Reopened our community health clinic in the heart of Kabul’s Old City – this will allow us to provide approximately 12,000 patient visits for Afghan women and men. Our patients have been over 70% women and girls, with a focus on maternal and family health.
● Reopened our primary school, providing education to boys and girls up to grade six in the local community.
Our students have been writing over the last weeks sharing their thoughts on the reopening of the school:
● “When I come to school, I feel very happy […] I want to become a teacher in the future and like our teachers teach other students so that they are happy with me.”
● “I want to become a doctor in the future. I am very happy that our school has reopened. I was missing our school and I was thinking about our studies. I lost my sleep at night and was always thinking about our studies. I really hope that our school doesn’t close again.”
● “I am very happy that school has reopened […] when I was at home, I wished I could be a bird so that I could fly to a better place to study.”
● “I really hope our school does not get closed again. I want to become an intelligent doctor and serve my fellow countrymen and women. I have a peaceful mind since I returned to school.”
● From a parent: “When I heard that the school had reopened I shouted so loud out of joy that my husband was shocked.”
The clinic has been in particular demand since the crisis. One of our doctors writes: “I saw a patient this week with severe depression and we were able to provide counselling and prescription medication. Her depression had been a challenge for months - as a widow raising six children, she and her family have been living in Kabul since their home was destroyed in the ongoing conflict. The patient seemed really impressed with the service we were able to provide, and promised that she will remain hopeful and strong.”
Turquoise Mountain has almost 200 staff on the ground in Afghanistan, 15 years of community relationships, and the ability to make a direct and immediate difference for the thousands of women, men and children that we support through incomes, education and healthcare. In the wake of recent political events in Afghanistan, we are determined to continue our work where we can, to help as many as we can, as safely as we can.
We recognize that our work will need to continue to adapt in light of the new reality in Afghanistan. But we are in a special position to be able to help so many people with whom we have worked, at their moment of greatest need. This is only possible with generous support of so many individual donors. This is an incredibly important moment, and if we had not been able to act so swiftly, we would have lost this opportunity. Thank you so much.
TURQUOISE MOUNTAIN’S IMPACT IN AFGHANISTAN
During this time of transition, we are dedicated to continuing as much of our work in Afghanistan as we can. Since 2006, we are proud that we have:
● Trained over 6,000 artisans and builders, many of them to mastery-level in their craft
● Restored over 150 historic buildings, including an entire neighbourhood in Kabul’s Old City (pictured left), winning a UNESCO heritage award
● Brought over $12,000,000 in traditional crafts to market
● Built over 50 small artisan businesses, many of which are run by women
● Provided over community-focused health care through over 170,000 patient visits
● Provided primary education and heritage classes to hundreds of children each year
● Shared this work with the wider global community - through major exhibitions and public programs at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC, Beit Al-Qur’an in Bahrain, the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Leighton House in London, the World Economic Forum at Davos, and the Venice Biennale – reaching millions of visitors.
Above: A UNESCO award-winning restoration in the Old City of Kabul (left); the community of craftsmen and builders with whom we work (right)
We have been truly overwhelmed by the generosity of over 5,600 supporters from across the UK and around the world.
With your support, we have far exceeded our original goal and will be able to provide meaningful support to thousands of the Afghan artisans and families with whom we work. With your support, we have been able to re-open our clinic in Kabul – and we will keep you informed on the other ways that your generous contributions have been put to work helping those who really need it.
We would love to stay in touch. If you haven’t already, please join Turquoise Mountain’s mailing list here so that we can keep you informed about our work in Kabul and elsewhere - we promise to keep updates infrequent and impactful!
During a time of crisis and uncertainty, your support has meant a huge amount and will make a very real difference. Thank you so much, from all of us at Turquoise Mountain.