Mahboba's promise

Mahboba's promise

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Mahboba's Promise is an Australian non-profit organisation dedicated to helping the women and the large number of orphaned children of Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

. It is one of the few non-governmental organisations operational in that war-torn nation entirely funded by private donations and currently looks after over 4,000 women and orphans through 90 projects. The organisation with its close knowledge of local conditions valuably supplements the work of UNICEF in the region.

Background


At the age of 14, hunted down for being a student activist Mahboba Rawi hid from the occupying Soviet soldiers in an underground Kabul
Kabul
Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

 basement for 20 days. She then fled Afghanistan, crossing the Khyber Pass
Khyber Pass
The Khyber Pass, is a mountain pass linking Pakistan and Afghanistan.The Pass was an integral part of the ancient Silk Road. It is mentioned in the Bible as the "Pesh Habor," and it is one of the oldest known passes in the world....

 on foot, arriving at a Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

 refugee camp
Refugee camp
A refugee camp is a temporary settlement built to receive refugees. Hundreds of thousands of people may live in any one single camp. Usually they are built and run by a government, the United Nations, or international organizations, or NGOs.Refugee camps are generally set up in an impromptu...

 hungry and frightened.

Mahboba began the project to help Afghan orphans in 1998 with a small donation in the lounge room of her rented home in Sydney
Sydney
Sydney is the most populous city in Australia and the state capital of New South Wales. Sydney is located on Australia's south-east coast of the Tasman Sea. As of June 2010, the greater metropolitan area had an approximate population of 4.6 million people...

's North Ryde.After the tragic death of her own son, Mahboba slowly pieced her life together by helping other Afghan women, pioneering English classes and even a learn to swim program. A letter from a young Afghan doctor begging for help to save refugee orphans dying on the streets of Kabul
Kabul
Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

 encouraged Mahboba and her friends to raise $120.00 that day. To prove the orphans had received the money, the young doctor sent back the children's fingerprints.

The organisation Mahboba's Promise was established as the result of a promise Mahboba made that she would continue to help the orphans of Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 for the rest of her life and she would make people in Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 and the world aware of their suffering and what could be done for them. Since 2001 she has been an active member of Sydney's Afghan community, running English classes for immigrants. Once a refugee herself, Mahboba is still in contact with relatives who've fled to the camps of Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

.

The organisation became well known in Australia as the result of a visit to Kabul
Kabul
Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

 by Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) journalist Virginia Haussegger. It is also the subject of a film.

Nature of the organisation


Mahboba's Promise is funded entirely by voluntary donations (no government funding). Funds are sent each month to Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 where Mahboba’s Promise is a registered NGO. Financial reports are received back from the field and receipts are kept at the Hope House office for inspection. The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission and other agencies refer destitute orphans to the organisation as the most suitable facility in Kabul to give practical and emotional support to the most difficult of cases. Mahboba's Promise is a signatory to the Code of Conduct of ACFID, The Australian Council for International Development and Mahboba's Promise NGO in Kabul
Kabul
Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

 is an observer member of ACBAR, The Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief.
In 2009 Mahboba's Promise opened a medical centre staffed by a local doctor and dentist to provide medical and dental care for Hope House orphans and widows, as well as the local community. Main concerns for the children have been skin problems, including scabies
Scabies
Scabies , known colloquially as the seven-year itch, is a contagious skin infection that occurs among humans and other animals. It is caused by a tiny and usually not directly visible parasite, the mite Sarcoptes scabiei, which burrows under the host's skin, causing intense allergic itching...

 and fungal infections as well as leishmaniasis
Leishmaniasis
Leishmaniasis is a disease caused by protozoan parasites that belong to the genus Leishmania and is transmitted by the bite of certain species of sand fly...

 caused by a sand fly bite. Hearing and gum problems are also prevalent.The recently opened Handicraft Artisan Training Centre in Panjshir Valley
Panjshir Valley
The Panjshir Province is a valley in north-central Afghanistan, 150 km north of Kabul, near the Hindu Kush mountain range. Located in the Panjshir Province it is divided by the Panjshir River...

 has been well attended by widows eager to learn a skill so they can make money to support their children. In 2010 five solar hot water
Solar hot water
Solar water heating or solar hot water systems comprise several innovations and many mature renewable energy technologies that have been well established for many years...

 heaters were donated by Conergy Australia and after several months spent negotiating their transport, these have been installed on the roof of the Community Centre. This frees up money which had been budgeted for buying wood to heat the water, because even in the summertime, the water from the local well is extremely cold.

Notability of the organisation


Mahboba's Promise is the only independent Australian charity working in Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

. Its staff have local knowledge of the languages, culture and needs of the Afghan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 people. Many other not-for-profit organizations have been forced to leave Afghanistan as with the ongoing war against the Taliban it is an extremely dangerous country for aid workers.

As Virginia Haussegger states: "[Mahboba's] two orphanages in Kabul and her various support programs outside the capital, including a school for 200 girls in the Panjshir Valley, have not only changed lives and saved lives, they have set an example of what is possible."

"There are over two million widows in Afghanistan, most of them are illiterate and unemployed. Here, there's no such thing as social welfare or government handouts...Mahboba Rawi is an extraordinary woman who has set herself a seemingly impossible task: to help rebuild the broken and desperate lives of Afghan women left destitute by war...
Mahboba Rawi's biggest project, set on the outskirts of Kabul, boasts the proud name 'Hope House'. It's home to 106 of the happiest and luckiest orphans in Afghanistan."

Mahboba Rawi was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in the 2010 Queen's Birthday Honours in recognition of her service to international humanitarian aid in Afghanistan.