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

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Important role at the United Nations

"Children and armed conflict" is one of the priorities of Germany as a non-permanent member state of the United Nations Security Council (SC), for the biennium 2011/2012. In the second half of 2011, Germany chairs the SC, and doing justice to this responsibility, the German Mission to the United Nations launched a campaign to raise awareness on this issue, calling for photographs, drawings, audio files that could, somehow, answer to the question: "Why should schools be protected in the context of armed conflicts?"

The final result consists of a slideshow titled "Protect my School" (at the bottom of the right column), presented at a workshop on 30th June. Ttwo photos of Shawl Pacha School were included in this slideshow.


It was also published two photographs of the Pol-e-Charki High School, in Kabul, that is being benefited by the Portuguese military in Afghanistan.

On the 12th July, 2011, at a German proposal, the Security Council adopted the Resolution 1998, which condemns, among other things, "attacks against schools and hospitals" in the context of war.

"Places of learning and places of healing should never be places of war. Today’s resolution takes us one step further,” he added. “It not only emphasizes that schools and hospitals should be zones of peace respected by all parties to conflict, it adds attacks on schools and hospitals as listing criteria in my annual reports on children in armed conflict.” (Ban Ki-moon, secretary general of the UN Security Council)

"Mina Wali, a heroic Afghan woman in war-torn Tora Bora"

During a visit to Europe, invited by the European Foundation for Democracy, Mina Wali is interviewed by "Today's Zaman", an English language Turkish newspaper. Here is the integral article.

Mina Wali is one of many heroic women in Afghanistan, which is one of the poorest countries in the world and has extremely abject living conditions. After spending 28 years in California, one of the most beautiful and wealthiest states in the US, Wali decided to return to her homeland of Afghanistan in 2003 because she felt needed to do something for her country.

Wali did something even braver -- she headed to the slopes of the Tora Bora Mountains, the most dangerous part of the country where Osama bin Laden had settled and administered his global operations for many years. Her primary reason was to make a humble contribution to her homeland by opening a school after her 28 years of comfort in California. Wali, during a visit to Brussels as an invited guest of the European Foundation for Democracy, shared the story of her return to Tora Bora.

According to the UN Human Development Index (HDI), Afghanistan ranks 155th among 169 countries; average life expectancy is 44.6 years and average education is 3.3 years. In other words, the average Afghan citizen is not even a primary school graduate. Wali, who launched a school by the Hope of Mother organization in the foothills of the Tora Bora Mountains in 2005, is trying to offer world-standard education to 500 students. What is significant about this school is that the number of girls is greater than boys. Stressing that the literacy rate among Afghan women is only between 5-8 percent, Wali notes that there are 260 girls studying at her school.


The location of the school bears symbolic significance in some respects; the name of the city where the school was opened in 2006 is Torghar, which means Black Mountain and is located on the slopes of the Tora Bora Mountains. When asked, “Why this city,” Wali responds: “When I got married, they gave me some land as dowry. When I went back to Afghanistan, I wanted to see this land. I noticed that the land was located at the base of the Tora Bora Mountains. We built the school on that land. This way, we saved money and besides, we built a school in a region that was badly in need of education.”

The first rocket against the Red Army during the Soviet occupation in the 1980s was fired in this region. Wali says that what this region needs is education and books rather than weapons.

"I have great expectations from Turkey"

Stressing how much the Afghan people love and respect Turkey, Wali is now asking for help from the Turkish people in her fight against illiteracy. She is urging the Turkish government to sponsor initiatives to open more schools in the region so that children can be saved from the streets.
Noting the success of Turkish schools in Afghanistan, Wali complains about conditions in her region and asks Turkey to consider this matter.

Saying that they are experiencing serious financial problems, Wali explains, using an interesting analogy, how she secures support for resources for her school: “When I go back to America, I am like a beggar. I ask for money from everybody I encounter. I urge my relatives and my close friends to direct their alms to the school.”

One of the reasons for her return to the homeland she left at age 17 was to find out the fate of her father, Shivali Han, one of the first pilots in Afghanistan to serve as an aide of Afghan King Zaheer Shah. Her father disappeared in the 1970s while under arrest at Bagram Air Base, which is currently being used by the Americans. Whether her father is dead or alive is still a mystery. If he is dead, his grave has not yet been identified. Wali says: “I worked hard to find out my father’s fate when I got back in 2003. We do not know if he is alive or not. We do not know the location of his grave if he is dead. I realized something during the search for my father. There are thousands of families like us; and their agony is greater than ours. Sadly, I gave up on searching for my father.”

"Osama bin Laden brought nothing but disaster to Afghanistan" 

Wali, who is in Brussels to participate in an event sponsored by the European Foundation for Democracy after Osama bin Laden was killed in an American operation, says the al-Qaeda leader exploited her people for many years. Noting that bin Laden inflicted the greatest harm on the Afghan people and Afghanistan, Wali said: “Who loves and respects these people? According to the Quran, only Allah can take away life, nobody else. Afghanistan had been in a state of war for years already; it already had many issues to resolve. Then bin Laden came and exploited the Afghan people.” Wali argues that al-Qaeda kidnapped and brainwashed thousands of orphans in Afghanistan. However, her remarks about the Taliban are more lenient. Noting that no incident of corruption was identified or discovered during the Taliban era, Wali believes that corruption cases are on the rise under the Karzai administration in Afghanistan. Wali says: “I have no problem with the Taliban. I respect Islam. The Taliban has done nothing to me or my school so far. I did not pay a dime in bribes to open the school. I should note that there is no government authority in the school district.”
She has no problem with the Taliban, but there have been a few attempts to kill her. She has no idea of who ordered this, but she simply says: “I could be killed at any time. What can you do if this is your destiny?”

Photos HOM

Original article:
"Mina Wali, the heroic Afghan woman in war-torn Tora Bora", Today's Zaman, 19.06.2011