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)