Afghanistan has a very special place in my heart. For three years I was fortunate enough to live and work in Kabul as a music teacher at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM). From my first day in Kabul, I was welcomed as a family member, friend, and valued colleague, and made to feel at home wherever I went. I made many dear friends during that time and have countless happy memories of the country. I share stories of my time in Kabul with pride and hope that everyone can experience the real beauty of Afghanistan, away from the dominant narrative of war and violence. Even though I am no longer there in person, I am deeply committed to continuing my support to Afghanistan and its people as the country moves towards a more prosperous future.

For nearly 40 years, the UK-based charity Afghanaid has provided life-saving support and long-lasting solutions for vulnerable men, women and children across Afghanistan. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the growing unrest and violence in the country, the charity’s work is even more vital, especially in regions of the country where access to aid and basic services is becoming increasingly difficult.

In running the London Marathon 2022, I hope to contribute to this important work and continue my personal commitment to Afghanistan. While many of you know I enjoy running and have done it for most of my adult life, I have never had the privilege of running for such an important cause. Every penny I raise will help to improve the lives of men, women, and children in Afghanistan in some way and as such, I hope to raise as much as possible. I want to take this opportunity to thank you for helping me to fulfil my commitment to Afghanistan and for your support in my fundraising campaign. Or, as is said in Afghanistan, tashakor!

Lauren Braithwaite