As Afghanistan becomes increasingly dangerous, more international aid workers are withdrawing. But there are still some people in the country who refuse to give up.
Even before the fall of the Taliban, the international community made education and schools for girls in Afghanistan a priority. But these international efforts have faltered in recent years. Today Afghanistan is facing a catastrophic security situation. Even as many aid workers have left the country, a few have risked their lives to remain - among them Peter and Annemarie Schwitteck. Their NGO, called OFARIN - an acronym that means ‘well done!’ in Farsi - began establishing schools for girls in the country in 1998. By working with local mullahs in their school projects, they have been able to secure the support of the population. At Abu Bakr Siddique mosque in Kabul, the Quran is put away twice a day, and school books are brought out. Then school lessons are held for 90 minutes at a time. Girls and boys are taught separately, as is the custom in Afghanistan. Now OFARIN’s most important sponsor, the Catholic relief organization Misereor, has stopped funding the project due to security concerns. In early 2017, OFARIN was providing an education to some 9000 young students, more than half of them girls. It also offered employment and a livelihood to some 500 teachers, many of whom are former students. Since then, contributions from private foundations and donors have allowed OFERIN to continue running schools for some 5000 girls and boys. However, this funding is only assured through March 2019. For Peter and Annemarie Schwitteck, giving up is inconceivable.