An alarmingly high percentage of the Afghan population consists of widows and orphans, who most often live in squalor. Our passion is to help this group – doing nothing is not an option! Though the government is concerned about the people, they are not at present able to assist them.
Living without a husband is extremely difficult for Afghan widows, especially if their family or in-laws leave them to their fate. A vast majority of the widows live well below the poverty line, and they need to fend for themselves without having the financial security and social protection that a husband offers.
According to Afghan custom, children are considered orphans if their fathers die. Most such orphans end up on the streets. We help them by providing them with a family with which to live, as well as with healthy food and education – we do not believe that institutionalised orphanages are the best environment for children to grow up in.
FACTS AND FIGURES
Research and reports by the UN and UNCHR confirm the dire and vulnerable situation within which Afghanistan’s children find themselves.
A few of the alarming statistics are as follows:
“During a terrorist attack in Kabul, a man and a married couple were killed. They were simply at the wrong place at the wrong time, with disastrous consequences. Not only did a wife become a widow, but in one moment three children lost both their parents.
Yet, some time later, I heard that the widowed woman had decided to take the three children of the murdered couple under her care, as if they were her own. This touched me deeply. This choice the widow made is a striking example of the heart of the Village of Peace. This is also the reason why my wife, Ina, and I are financially supporting this widow. I see the care for widows and orphans as my personal mission. I dream of a place of safety for every child in Afghanistan.”
Piet van Walsem, CEO: Village of Peace
Our approach is holistic. Though our main focus is on education, awareness, sustainable agriculture and job creation, we also provide widows and orphans with healthy food, medical assistance and housing, if necessary.
FAMILY-BASED ALTERNATIVE CARE
Sadly, institutionalised orphanages are still widely seen as being the best form of orphan care. However, such institutionalised care is relatively costly, and it is often detrimental to the children concerned who very rarely, under such circumstances, receive the personal attention that they need. Moreover, institutionalisation removes a child from his or her home environment. Therefore, we choose to help the orphans find a new family and home.
Practically, the above situation implies that a widow opens up her home to care for one or more orphans as part of her own family. The numerous advantages of this approach include: an orphan stays in their home environment; they receive personal adult-based attention; and new social structures are fostered that provide both the widows and the orphans with the safety and security that the family-orientated environment provides. Family bonds within a home setting can be very strong, with the potential to span a lifetime, well past when an orphan turns 18, at which age they are usually no longer accommodated within an institutional setting.
WANT TO HELP?
For a set amount each month, you can provide an orphan with a home, healthy food and an education. The amount simultaneously helps the widows who volunteer to take the orphans into their care, as they are then provided with a work opportunity in one of our Village of Peace social enterprises.
The only prerequisite from us is that you commit to sponsoring an orphan for one full year. A year’s sponsorship gives us enough time and financial support to guarantee that the orphan is well looked after, while we work on our long-term solutions.