May everyday of the new year glow with new cheer and happiness for you and your family. Nowruz Moobarak! Happy Nowruz!
 
March 2016, Newsletter 
 Farzana's Story 
Farzana is a 32-year-old Afghan businesswoman. She has been operating her beauty shop in Kabul for more than five years. The income she makes helps her to feed her four children and send them to school.
Farzana: I became T-O-M’s partner three years ago. When I was thinking of a way to make an income in order to feed my family. In the beginning I was not a beautician and did not have enough experience.  I got experience when I worked in a beauty shop for my relative, who also was a partner of T-O-M. Later, when I got enough experience and knowledge, one of my relatives introduced me to TOM and encouraged me to take a loan from T-O-M so that I could open my own beautician shop. Now I run my own business, I even have an employee..  To start a new business was the best decision I have ever made. Now my children have food and go to school. I help women by providing them work in my shop. It’s a pity that a women’s role in Afghanistan is not respected. Unfortunately, in most cases, women are the victims of the cruel injustice of different persons. In Afghanistan, women’s strengths are underestimated. Women are strong and if they are given opportunities, you will see they will overcome any challenges. I encourage the women of Afghanistan to be strong!  Women should try to help themselves and they should work hard. We should all take part in supporting them and giving them encouragement.
I am very thankful for T-O-M, which is providing economical growth to the country and helping the poor people to improve their lives. I also encourage my friends to help themselves and their families with these loan opportunities from T-O-M.
Challenges that Aid organizations face working in Afghanistan.
International Aid organizations play a big role in the peace building process in conflict zones. For many years, aid organizations have been acting with the goal to relieve the suffering, which in most cases is caused by the failure of the political process. The people of Afghanistan do not remember what it is like to live in peace. More than thirty years of war has caused widespread death and damage across Afghanistan. As of January 2015, according to the Watson Institute, over 26,000 civilians are estimated to have died because of the long-standing war and conflict. This cruel war has left thousands of widows, orphans, and disabled persons in a very dire situation; many are fleeing the country.  Currently, more than 5 million Afghans are considered refugees, and there are an unknown number of internally displaced persons. Those Afghans who have remained in Afghanistan struggle daily to have basic essentials, such as food, shelter, water, and access to basic medical care. During recent years, many Aid Organizations have left Afghanistan due to various reasons, resulting in many Afghans losing their jobs, family income, and basic support. Those organizations that have remained active in helping the Afghan people have dedicated and experienced staff who are committed to long-term improvement. These organizations are facing an increasingly difficult set of challenges in their commitment to help. 
Afghanistan is experiencing a humanitarian crises that is primarily the result of the continued deterioration of security and the economic vacuum created over the most recent years; highlighted by the pull out of support. Lack of financial resources is one of the biggest challenges that Aid organizations face in Afghanistan. Many donors are now avoiding or ignoring Afghanistan, and they tend to invest in other countries where it is safer to implement projects.
“I used to get rice, potatoes and some oil from Aid organizations before, but now most of them have left. Now I don’t have any income, I am left to survive”- says a 50 years old Saulah, mother of eight children.
The closing of so many programs has contributed, both directly and indirectly, to the increase of the unemployment rate in the country.  This is a direct result of the lack of a sustainable economy created during the years of short-term economic development programs.  As the unemployment rate has now moved above 50%, the need for programs that will create sustainable jobs and sustainable economic livelihood for Afghans has dramatically increased. As programs lay off employees, the income of these employees disappears.  The same income that previously allowed these people to spend money in the market and drive the businesses of merchants.  As a result, businesses have slowed, or closed, and the economy has seen a crosscutting and devastating slowing down to a crawl. On the ground people still have to survive and feed their families, this need does not go away.  When normal jobs and livelihood opportunities are not available, desperate people turn to criminal and terrorist organizations to provide basic needs for their families.
In the context of Afghanistan an Aid worker is still considered someone with a good job and income. The result of this perception is that desperate people have started to systematically attack aid workers.  According the Aid Worker Security Report for 2015, the total number of aid worker victims globally was 329 persons across 27 countries, among which 120 were killed, 88 were wounded and 121 were kidnapped. Afghanistan is considered one the most dangerous countries for aid workers. According to the United Nations, 57 aid workers were killed in Afghanistan in 2014. In 2015, 26 aid workers were killed and 17 were injured, according to statistics released by Acbar, a coordinating body for NGOs in Afghanistan. The reduction in 2015 is not due to less violence, but rather less Aid workers in Afghanistan as a result of the reduction in programs. Proportionately the 2015 statistics demonstrate an in crease of attacks as a percentage of the Aid workers in Afghanistan.  Aid workers are forced to think of more creative ways and approaches in order to carry out their essential activities to help people.
Every day Aid workers in Afghanistan face a lack of financial resources, systematic targeting, dangerous security situations, corruption, ethnic clashes, human rights violations, and disadvantageous legal regulations for NGOs. Despite all of these challenges, at T-O-I we believe that there is a chance to overcome the problems and make a difference.

______________________________________
Sources: UN, Acbar, Watson Institute. 
Photo: Ibtimes.co.in
About:
Full name: Tikkun Olam International,  (T-O-I)
Legal Status: Non-Profit, 501(c)(3) in the United States.
Implementing Partner:Tikkun Olam Microfinance(T-O-M)
Location of the partner: Kabul, Afghanistan.





 
Todays Numbers
Active Clients 5,082
Job Placement 130
DIY Creations 9
Transition Home 5
Transition Home- Graduates  3 
Happy Nowruz!
Nowruz is the Persian New Year and it literally means “a new day”. Nowruz is celebrated on March 21st every year.
Nowruz is a very special day for many Afghans. It is a day of unification, when people of different ethnicities gather in one place and wish the next year to be a peaceful year. Afghans prepare for Nowruz by cleaning their houses and buy new clothes. On Nowruz day, people visit family members, relatives, neighbors and friends.
For entertainment, Afghans organize Buzkashi matches. A Buzkashi tournament is held during the Guli Surkh festival (Festival of Flowers, which is the principal festival for Nowroz), in Mazar i Sharif, Kabul and other northern cities in Afghanistan. Buzkashi is the national game of Afghanistan. In this sport, horse-mounted players attempt to drag a goat or calf carcass toward a goal.
“Samanak” is a special sweet dish that is cooked only for Nowruz. The main ingredient is wheat. The dish is cooked and prepared on the eve of the New Year. In addition, for desert special cookies called “Kulcha-e Nowrozi” are baked. The main dishes usually consist of spinach, boiled eggs, garlic, etc. Each dish has a meaning.  For example, Afghans eat spinach because they wish to have a clean and green environment, boiled eggs represent abundance, and garlic is a sign of the family’s health. During the rule of the Taliban the celebration of Nowruz was prohibited, because it was considered a non-Islamic holiday.  Today, Afghans openly celebrate Nowruz with food, music in their houses, and smiles on their faces.
Happy Nowruz from Afghanistan!
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