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The Afghanistan Relief Organization is a nonprofit based in the United States that provides aid and education to underprivileged people in Afghanistan. Afghans Abdul Satar and Aboul Fazil Khalili founded the organization in California in 1998. It is operated primarily by volunteers, including both Afghans and Americans, and is non-political and non-religious. In addition to providing direct aid, the organization promotes self-sufficiency in Afghanistan with its educational programs. The Afghanistan Relief Organization has impacted the lives of thousands of impoverished Afghans.

Direct Aid

Afghanistan is one of the most impoverished countries in the world. Over 40% of the population lives below the poverty line. Many more live just above the poverty line and are extremely vulnerable. In order to diminish the effects of poverty, the Afghanistan Relief Organization provides direct aid to thousands of Afghans. This aid includes food, school supplies, hygiene supplies, medicine and winter clothing. Many Afghans do not have stable access to these resources without the aid of an NGO like this one. By giving these supplies directly to people in need, the organization is able to improve the lives of countless impoverished Afghans.

Changing Lives With Education

Another service provided by the Afghanistan Relief Organization is education, which is available at its Technology Education Center in Kabul. This school provides free classes for children and adults, and has had thousands of students since its creation in 2003. The classes teach things like English, computer skills, physical education and job training. The instructors and staff at the school are willing to work for small salaries. As a result, the Afghanistan Relief Organization is able to use the majority of its funding to provide educational resources for the students.

The Afghanistan Relief Organization has also created a series of women’s literacy classes. In Afghanistan, there is a large gender disparity in education, and many women lack basic literacy. These classes give women an opportunity to develop the crucial literacy skills they need to support their families. There are multiple levels of classes available, and the organization also provides $50 per month for its students as support.

Celebrity Support

A wide range of celebrities have publicly supported the Afghanistan Relief Organization, including Jake Gyllenhaal, Benicio del Toro, Halle Berry and Richard Gere. In addition to providing financial support, these celebrities use their fame to give publicity to the organization. This helps mobilize more volunteers and donors. In 2007, the organization held an auction of traditional Afghan kites to raise funds. Celebrities such as Angelina Jolie, Will Ferrell and Natalie Portman signed some of these kites to increase their values. Support from celebrities like these has greatly helped the Afghanistan Relief Organization’s ability to fundraise and have a greater impact.

Afghanistan faces many problems due to its extreme poverty, and many Afghans do not have access to the resources they need. However, the Afghanistan Relief Organization has improved the living conditions of countless Afghans. The education that the organization provides, through its Technology Education Center, helps thousands of students. The Afghanistan Relief Organization is able to function due to the devotion of its instructors and staff who work for small salaries, as well as celebrities who continue to support the organization’s efforts.

– Gabriel Guerin
Photo: Needpix.com

Broadway
Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz had already solidified their fame and fortune in the acting world before their 2013 hit on Broadway.  The pair starred in Harold Pinter’s play ‘Betrayal,’ which earned an impressive $17.5 million in only 14 weeks.  Though the play itself was not fawned over by critics, the opportunity to see the married couple on stage drew so many individuals that the play became the year’s second highest grossing play on Broadway.  Nora Ephron’s play ‘Lucky Guy’ held the top position, garnering $23 million in 18 weeks.  The duo is known for its humanitarian work, so how does their recent gig stack up to their causes?

One of Weisz’s focuses is the World Food Programme, for whom she appears in a short promotional video.  The United Nations organization published a projection of 2013 needs for emergency programs, topping $1.45 billion.  The West African sector was projected to require just over $81 million for Ghana, Liberia, and regional refugees and displaced persons due to instability in Mali.  The play’s $17.5 million is just short of 25 percent of the entire projected need of West Africa.

Meanwhile, Craig supports the Afghanistan Relief Organization (ARO.)  The ARO works to provide direct assistance to Afghanis who need it, with a range of programs including Infant Care Kits, Teacher Training, and a Greenhouse Project that provides seeds to farmers and food to the hungry.  The organization’s 2006 total expenses were $189,629.  The Broadway play’s earnings could provide the ARO with 92 more years of services at the same cost, or exponentially increase the operating budget and thus provide more, and higher quality services to more people.

The play’s 14 weeks on Broadway earned more money than most individuals in the world will earn in their lifetimes, and more money than some humanitarian organizations will spend in their existence.  It is safe to say any of Weisz’s or Craig’s favorite humanitarian causes would be thrilled to receive $17.5 million to further their aims.

Katey Baker-Smith

Sources: Afghan Relief, World Food Programme
Photo: SMS Gif