It has been hard to miss the news and deeply troubling scenes from Afghanistan. After years of conflict and poverty, the country has been in the grip of a catastrophic food shortage and the worst drought in 27 years.
In November, the Scottish Government recognised critical levels of need and released funds through its Humanitarian Emergency Fund. This came at a crucial time as the country prepared to enter a harsh winter, with temperatures sometimes dropping as low as -20°C.
The funds, combined with financial support of faithful Tearfund supporters, were released to help our partner in Afghanistan provide 2,000 households with food, hygiene items and blankets.
Our colleagues in Afghanistan have reported that distribution is well under way, reaching people who have been identified as some of the poorest and most vulnerable and who have been forced to flee their homes, displaced from their local communities.
An elderly man, Mr Aga, is just one of those supported as a result of this Scottish funding.
He said: ‘Life is very harsh here. I have many bad memories from war. I’ve lost many precious things in my life, like my two young daughters killed by aerial firings. I’ve also been disabled and firing destroyed my home. My children and grandchildren have been facing hunger and cold this winter. Due to poverty, I could not educate them, they are all illiterate.’
Receiving supplies from Tearfund’s partner, he said, ‘It was unbelievable to see this unique package. It meets the exact needs of my family. Thank you for these food items, blankets and hygiene kit. You have made our family very happy.’
Also receiving supplies was Mr Khan, a cobbler with a small shop on a roadside. A hidden mine blasted near his workplace and took one of his legs, leaving him disabled. He said,
‘Since then, life has become much harder and I struggle everyday but cannot find enough money to provide my family sufficient food, medicines and shelter. My blankets are not enough for my kids during the cold winter months. They collect dry leaves to make fire which keeps us warm for some time at night. My wife has hens and sells the eggs to earn some money but inflation is very high these days, so we’re not able to meet our needs with our meagre earnings. Most people around us are also poor, each family is struggling to make ends meet.’
Mr Khan said the blankets would keep them warm and the food would provide for the family for many weeks.
Generous support welcomed
Tearfund’s Country Director in Afghanistan, Corine Verdoold, says Scottish Government funding and all those donating to Tearfund’s appeal, have helped make a difference in a very challenging situation.
‘The long, cold winter in Afghanistan was especially harsh this year for more than 670,000 people recently displaced and far from home, with only the clothes on their backs. Thanks to this generous support, we’ve been able to provide crucial supplies to help families survive.’
A prayer of lament
Prayers for the people of Afghanistan and those involved in the humanitarian response are more crucial than ever right now.
Below is a prayer of lament written by former Tearfund Afghanistan Country Director, Bruce Clark, who is originally from Aberdeen.
How long, O Lord until we see mercy and justice for the Afghan people?
How long, O Lord until there is enough food for everyone to eat and clean water to drink?
How long, O Lord until every man, woman and child has shelter and warmth this harsh winter?
How long, O Lord until there is no need to be a refugee or displaced from home?
How long, O Lord until Afghans can live in peace?
How long, O Lord until Afghans can laugh and smile again, living dignified, hope-filled lives?
Oh Lord, do not forget our precious Afghan friends. Come quickly with mercy, hope and justice.