Saturday, October 20, 2012

Drawing 4 Peace

Please take a moment to look at these drawings! This morning I received a package from Afghanistan from our school. This should make you smile. I received a ton of drawings from our students in kindergarden to 2nd graders. They drew pictures for my mother and I. So made my weekend! Look at the colors, they are full of love & innocence. Most of the pics, they are thanking my mom for teaching them about nutrition & giving them education. :) ♥
Dina Azim, Director of HOM and Mina Wali's daughter, 12/10/2012 

Photos: HOM

Small donation... big help!

In late September, goods colected in Lisbon arrived in Jalalabad. Their final destiny was Shawl Pacha School and its clinic, both facilities run by Hope of Mother.

This initiative became possible thanks to the generosity of a few people and institutions:
  • AMI and a some individuals, who donated goods, from textbooks to furniture and medical supplies.
  • The Portuguese military, who ensured its transport to Afghanistan.
  • Hope of Mother, that, on the ground, took the goods from Kabul to Jalalabad.

On my own behalf, I thank in particular Mr. António Calisto, the owner of kiosk "Bragantina", in Anjos area (Lisbon), who donated English books, and also Sandra Antas, tireless in collecting goods and sensitizing other donors. Your generosity is priceless!

Margarida Mota

Photos: HOM

Friday, October 19, 2012

Sadaf Rahimi, a dream (just) postponed

For a long time, Sadaf Rahimi dreamt about representing her country at the London Olympic Games. This aspiration was born after, against all odds, she started practicing boxing... in Kabul.

The first time I hit someone it was in my village, I was 11. It was actually my cousin. Afterwards he said I hit him so hard that I should become a boxer!”, recalls Sadaf.

Born in 1994, she started training boxing after Tareq Azim, vice president of Hope of Mother (HOM), has launched, in 2007, the Afghan Women's Boxing Federation. Around 25 girls began training by that time, which took place in Kabul Stadium, where, during Taliban regime, many women had been victims of public executions.

Sadaf and her sister Shabnam, one year older, were among the first athletes. “My family fled to Iran during the taliban regime, but I heard that women used to be killed here and sometimes, when I exercise alone inside the stadium, I panic”, Sadaf confesses.

At the beggining, their father was reluctant, concerned that such a male sport could jeopardize the personal future of his daughters. Whose man would marry a woman boxer? However, the enthusiasm of the girls... knocked him out.

It is something that has never been done in the history of any islamic republic, to see a woman step up in such male dominated world”, said Tareq, the first coach of the two afghan girls. “I'm not training these young ladies to become killers. I'm there to present them on how to develop confidence and say: 'If he can do it, I can do it!?'”

The girls understood Tareq's message. “I want to deliver a message to the world through my fighting: that afghan girls are not victims”, says Sadaf. On Youtube, she dazzled with videos of Laila Ali, daughter of the champion Muhammad Ali and herself a boxer in the US. “I wanted to prove that afghan girls could do everything too, just like in the West.

Faced with social disapproval, religious condemnation and even doubts from some coaches, Sadaf won every single domestic battle. Her determination crossed borders and, in early 2012, she received a “wild-card” - a special invitation given to cases where the qualification was not possible - to compete in the London Olympics. “I am sure I will be punched like a bag. Like I am a pillow being pummeled”, she said. “I just don’t want to be down on and knocked out on the floor. That would be embarrassing for me and a dishonor for Afghanistan.

The International Boxing Association (AIBA) gave Sadaf a hand and took her to the United Kingdom where she attended a training camp in Cardiff University, for two weeks. “Whether I win a medal or not, I will be a symbol of courage as soon as I step into the ring”, she said.

That moment, however, never came. The July 18th, 2012, AIBA decided that Sadaf would not participate in the London Olympics, fearing that she could not endure the fighting against more experienced and better prepared opponents.

When Sadaf's dream fell apart, Tareq Azim felt as if it was his own dream. “The ultimate thing is about keeping her motivated, the ultimate mission is to keep the project alive, is about keeping hope for ther nation. And that's what we are going to do! Sadaf wants to go, Sadaf wants an opportunity in the Olympics. All she has to do is give me the green light.” Tareq is willing to train Sadaf in San Francisco, where he lives and owns a gym. Perhaps having in sight the Rio de Janeiro Olympics (2016).


Fight like a man!” (2011), about Tareq Azim's return to Afghanistan, in 2007, and the start of female boxing classes in Kabul

The Boxing Girls of Kabul” (2011)

Additional articles:

"I'll proudly fight for women and Afghanistan", The Guardian, 11/03/2012

"Una púgil indomable", El Mundo, 05/06/2012 (spanish)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Dialogue through cricket

Tareq Azim elected sport as a weapon. In Afghanistan, he wants to use it to bring citizens together and contribute to national unity.

“I truly believe that sports are an alternative tool for reconciliation – there is a contract of peace in sports”, says Tareq.

Last July, Tareq Azim inspired and named a cricket tournament that took place in Kunar province, near the border with Pakistan.

The Tareq Azim Cricket Tournament was organized by Said Muhammad Hasrat, doctor and collaborator to Hope of Mother. He is the "manager" of Shawl Pacha School.

Said Muhammad Hasrat, wearing cream clothes

Photos by Said Muhammad Hasrat

Fighting for unity

In december 2011, Tareq Azim, co-founder of Hope of Mother, visited Afghanistan, where he offered free Brazilian Jiu-jitsu instruction to some NATO coalition military. “It was a good demonstration of how sports like Brazilian Jiu-jitsu can bring different people together, create teams and establish loyalties”, said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Chris Colley, who attended the training.

Tareq Azim (wearing black) gives Brazilian Jiu-jitsu instruction, 
at U.S. Camp Eggers Base, in Kabul.
Photo by Senior Airman Kat Lynn Justen/U.S. Air Force

Professional boxer in the United States, and Ultimate Fighting Championship trainer for contender Jake Shields, Tareq Azim also used his stay in Afghanistan to meet with students of regional sports programs he has been developing throughout the country.

Anything in the world is available, anything is possible. My biggest sports philosophy is empowerment”, said Tareq Azim. “I truly believe that sports are an alternative tool for reconciliation – there is a contract of peace in sports.”

Photo by Senior Airman Kat Lynn Justen, U.S. Air Force
Mina Wali's son, Tareq was born in 1979, in Germany, where the family, fleeing from the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, enjoyed refugee status. In 1983, Azim family moved to San Francisco (USA), where Tareq began to devote himself to martial arts. In 2004, he visited his home country for the first time.

“My grandfather was commanding general of Bagram Air Force Base, the first fighter-jet pilot and senior in command of the Afghan Air Force during the reign of the monarchy”, he said. “That internal legacy drove me back to service for this nation the way that he did. He did it through military, and I’ll do it through sportsmanship.”

Afghan-American UFC trainer spreads empowerment through unity, NATO Training Mission - Afghanistan, 22/12/2011

Sunday, August 26, 2012

"Friendly Gift" benefits Afghan project

Five euros, for any of us, is a symbolic amount. In Afghanistan, five euros is a substantial amount that can make a difference.

For five euros only, you can acquire this "Friendly Gift" (Prenda AMIga) and help, directly, Hope of Mother's school and clinic in Jalalabad, one of six projects benefited by this initiative of AMI.

How can you do it?

1 - Choose the project you want to support.

2 - Transfer a minimum of 5€ to the following bank account:
BES Account No.: 015/45875/008 | SWIFT Code: 0007 0015 00458750008 36

3 - Send by e-mail the proof of payment to, stating:
• Your data (full name or full name of the company (trade name), address and nr. Tax Identification for issuance of receipt of donation).
• For individuals: Message in the chosen Project (up to 120 characters).
• For companies: Message in the chosen Project (up to 120 characters) and logo you want to put on postcard (logo up to 300€).

The personalized e-card will be sent by AMI within 24 hours (weekdays) until 23/12/2011.

Note: This post was originaly written on december 16th 2011 in the Portuguese version of Mina's Dream. This campaign took place during Christmas time 2011.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Thanks to "O Diplomata"

I thank the journalist Alexandre Guerra the post published in his blog "O Diplomata" (The Diplomat) about "Mina's Dream".

"All the children have dreams, even those who live in situations of great hardness and drama, like in Afghanistan. Here, the concept of 'crisis' is easily relativized", writes the author.

O Diplomata is a space of opinion and analysis of political affairs and International Relations. There, the author reflects on the major actual international issues, making reading suggestions and providing links to the leading newspapers, Portuguese and foreign, as well as to the websites of major international organizations and think tanks specialized in international matters.

Former editor of the Foreign desk of the weekly newspaper "Semanário", Alexandre Guerra is a specialist in International Relations and Communication.

Contacts in Kabul

On November 2011, Mina Wali, the founder of Hope of Mother, went to Afghanistan for a few months. The main reason for this return was the need to develop local contacts in order to develop a draft concerning the establishment of a Vocational Center in Kabul.

This Vocational Center aims to match some of the major challenges facing Afghanistan after the withdrawal of foreign troops. Namely:

- To promote education and training;
- To create employment;
- To support entrepreneurship of Afghan women;
- To root the youth in the country;
- To aware about the dangers of drug use;

On her agenda, Mina planned meetings in several Afghan ministries, as well as in embassies and international institutions with offices opened in the Afghan capital. In Kabul, Mina had the support of Lieutenant Colonel Octávio Vieira.

Photos by Octávio Vieira

"A dream in a land of nightmares"

"In eastern part of AfghanistanShawl Pacha School seemed to be a project doomed from birth." But it did not happened. Not only the school has suceeded, but also turned into a model in this poor country. This story is told in "AMI Notícias" bulletin, of the third quarter of 2011. The article discusses the project managed by Hope of Mother and also education in Afghanistan in general.

Entitled "Afghanistan: where going to school is a dream", the article describes a visit to Mina Wali's school and explains how this project is like an "oasis" in a country (yet) so harsh to education (especially of women). "In many parts of Afghanistan, going to school is not a right, but an aspiration", one can read.

Afeganistão: onde ir à escola é um sonho, AMI Blog

Afeganistão: onde ir à escola é um sonho, AMI Notícias, 3rd quarter 2011 (distributed free with "Visão" magazine, November 17th, 2011) (appendix)



Monday, August 13, 2012

Thanks to "Um Certo Oriente"

I thank António José Rodrigues the emphasis on "Mina's dream" in his blog, "Um Certo Oriente" (An Orient of a kind).

António José Rodrigues ia a military and a
passionate arabist. He is one of the greatest portuguese experts on arab countries issues.

From his resume, we can highlight a mission in Afghanistan, where he worked as cultural adviser at NATO headquarters, in Kabul.

I highly recommend a visit to "Um Certo Oriente". The author presents the blog as follows:

"The tone of this set of texts alternates moments of knowledge, reflection and entertainment. And that is how the dear reader, at the same time relaxed and involved, is asked to redo this breathtaking journey through unique destinations, in which it is kept much of the wisdom, the charm and mystery of the Orient, following the adventures and surprises that each story/history destines, absorving this desirable tea in the desert, under the shade of leafy green palms of date trees, among sand, fragrances and dreams, and let himself be outdone by the genuine knowledge and the authentic fantasy."
From this author:
Prefácio, 2009

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Small heroes: Nazzi

The girl in the photo is Nazzi. She is only 15 years old and she is proud of the carpet she made, along with three older sisters, at the Hope of Mother Vocational Training Center.

In Afghanistan, many young girls like Nazzi don't know how talented they are. They do not know that they have capabilities that can provide them a different life from the one they are aimed at birth. Many girls, like Nazzi, grow and live thinking that their role in the society is to get married, have children, cook and serve their husbands.

At the HOM Vocational Training Centre, Nazzi opened her mind. And she began dreaming about other goals and a different life.

Photo HOM

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Hope of Mother call

Kabul, Afghanistan

October 2011

The winds of time are passing by all over the world, and we are facing and living crucial historical moments that might challenge our own survival as human beings. Things and changes that we thought would never happen are taking place everywhere. Afghanistan is one of the countries where we can feel those winds of change. In fact, NATO and other International Organizations will start leaving the country soon, along with the transference of security and governance to afghan hands.

Thousands of jobs might be in risk due to that, and the majority of the Afghans don't have any special skills or learned any specific profession. In the last 10 years, millions and millions of euros were invested on education - schools and universities - but still the new graduated students don't have a place to go, after their graduation. The only way to get a job is to fly abroad, leaving the country without their best skilled men and women.

The afghan non governmental organization (NGO) Hope Of Mother (HOM), in partnership with the portuguese Foundation AMI (Assistência Médica Internacional) have been developing an outstanding humanitarian work provinding, since 2006, education and health care to more than 600 boys and girls in a school in Nangarhar, Jalalabad province.

AMI funded and continues funding the project, and the school is actually considered a model school to all Afghanistan. But there's still a lot to be done, if we want a prosper afghan economy with the help of their youth, men and women. HOM, sponsored by AMI, is developing a project that can be seen as the best solution for the incoming problems, which is the constrution of a Vocational Center in Kabul, that will be able to train and teach all the ones who want to learn a profession, a job.

Those job learning courses will be paid, like the ones that take place in Europe, but a solid and well structured project must be developed in order to be presented to the European Union or other institutions as a Funding Candidate.

The project is already being built by HOM, in the US, with some added ideas like the inclusion of a Graduate Work Placement for new graduated students looking for their first job. This intents to absorve the graduated students from the universities, give them a job and keep the best skilled elements inside the country, ensuring the future of Afghanistan.

Please help us, spreading the Hope of Mother page in Facebook and giving/sending us YOUR IDEAS/PROPOSALS that might improve the project, turning it as one FROM ALL OF US, but most of all, a Project for the Future of Afghanistan. 
Thanks indeed.
Octávio Vieira
Photos HOM


Monday, August 6, 2012

HOM attends Rebuild Afghanistan Summit

On 22nd October 2011, Hope of Mother attended the Rebuild Afghanistan Summit, held at UC Berkeley, California University.

This event
happens once a year since 2004 aiming to raise public awareness and garner support towards the organizations, companies and others entities engaged in the development of Afghanistan.

Non-governmental organizations, companies, donors, investors and political leaders take part in this summit.

Dina Azim was one of the representatives of Hope of Mother in this event. Throughout that day, Dina shared some feelings on Facebook...
"Sitting here at the Rebuild Afghanistan Summit at UC Berkeley to hear great speakers! One of them showed a video of a six years old girl collecting donations, such as clothes, toys, etc. She is so small. She puts them in a large black garbage bag bigger than herself, puts the bag on her shoulder and walks away with so much joy! The video touched many people to tears... I wish I could 'post' here the video for you to see! There is hope and a bright future for Afghan children..."
"Education, Education, Education! It is the main focus/focal point for the partial reconstruction of Afghanistan. That's what kids want. There is much work to do and we will do it (through small steps). Society cannot lose hope in Afghanistan..."

Students, books and smiles...

Photos HOM