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Parcels of hope: Linda Norgrove Foundation launches appeal to provide emergency aid for women in Afghanistan

'Parcels of Hope' are being distributed to women in Afghanistan
'Parcels of Hope' are being distributed to women in Afghanistan

In recent years, the Linda Norgrove Foundation has directed much of its focus on helping women get an education in Afghanistan.

But following the Taliban takeover of the country, the charity’s support is now more basic – helping women and children survive.

As they face a winter with a shortage of food and a means to keep warm, the foundation has launched a campaign to fund emergency food parcels.

Emergency aid to Afghan families

With Afghanistan on the verge of humanitarian and economic disaster, these ‘parcels of hope’ are being distributed to families in Kabul without a male breadwinner.

It is the latest support provided by the Hebrides-based foundation which was set up in memory of the aid worker from Lewis.

Linda Norgrove died in 2010 during a rescue attempt following her kidnapping in the war-torn country.

The charity was established by her parents, John and Lorna.

The Norgroves wanted Linda to be remembered for her contribution to life rather than her tragic death.

Lorna said: “These are particularly hard times for women whose families don’t have a male breadwinner.

The parcels are helping families without a male breadwinner.

“The country has suffered extreme drought, food prices have doubled, international aid has mostly halted, and tens of thousands of displaced people are sleeping rough.

“A harsh winter will only make their situation even more impossible.”

Since its formation, the foundation has funded more than 175 grass-roots projects, including school and university scholarships, mobile libraries and clean water and sanitation.

In that time it has raised more than £2 million.

It was also supporting 198 female students at the start of the year after demand for scholarships reached record levels.

Food prices have risen dramatically

Since the Taliban takeover, the number of women students in Afghanistan has dropped.

Although three quarters of them are still able to study, there have been changes such as separation of the classes.

The foundation is giving a living allowance to help support the students who are continuing to study.

Prices have risen dramatically due to shortages and many of the women’s hostels have closed down, adding to their living expenses.

But some have been unable to attend classes or have left the country, fearful of their future.

The foundation was set up in memory of aid worker Linda Norgrove.

The charity is therefore using some of its funds to support the distribution of emergency aid parcels.

It is supporting AGFO, a small Afghan charity, to locate women who head up families forced to leave their homes in the provinces, who have lost their husbands, or who have children aged under three.

AGFO bulk buys provisions and makes up parcels of food and other essentials. The parcels should last a family for five weeks.

Every week they distribute parcels containing 10kg rice, five litres of oil, seven kilograms of both beans and flour, five kilograms of sugar, two kilograms of dried milk, 15 packs of spaghetti, together with soap, shampoo and sanitary pads.

Each parcel costs £45.

‘They are not forgotten’

“We call them our Parcels of Hope,” adds Lorna.

“This is such a critical time for them. We want to do what we can to get them through the winter.

“We need them to know they are not forgotten.”

One of the women to have received a parcel is Sakina, whose husband was killed in an ISIS attack on the Baqir ul Uloom mosque in 2016.

She has six daughters and one son.

Her only son is disabled and unable to walk. One of her daughters is also disabled and walks with difficulty.

Parwin is one of the women to receive a ‘parcel of hope’.

The family has no money to pay for any medical treatment, and little for food.

Another, Parwin, has five children and her husband is disabled and unable to work.

Her 12-year-old son sustains the family by collecting and selling iron, earning 50p a day.

They can’t afford to pay for water or electricity.

In October, a family who work for the foundation escaped Afghanistan to start a new life in Stornoway.

John and Lorna Norgrove run the charity helping women in Afghanistan.

One of them, Frishta Matan, described the terrifying ordeal of trying to flee the country amid gunfire and general chaos.

Frishta and her sister Farzana, who work for the charity, managed to escape with their brother Zaker and Frishta’s husband Murtaza and baby Kia.

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