Cover image: Richard Pohle/The Times

In recent years, both natural disasters and ongoing conflict have had a devastating effect on rural areas in Afghanistan, decimating villages and forcing local people to seek refuge elsewhere.

Over the past year, we've been supporting over 12,830 people in Ghor and Samangan provinces by restoring and rebuilding houses that have been destroyed by conflict and natural disasters, helping entire communities to return to places they once called home.

Rebuilding Lokah Mazar village

Images: Richard Pohle/The Times

As part of their Christmas appeal, The Times and Sunday Times visited Lokah Mazar in Ghor province, a village that was a casualty of intense conflict in May last year. Nearly every resident was affected, with over 100 homes completely destroyed, and many hundreds more severely damaged. “Our village became the centre point of the war,” Ramazan, a villager, shared with The Times, “We were caught in between both sides.” 

As many families in the area are facing acute financial difficulties, many would have never been able to afford to rebuild. Currently, 97% of the Afghan population is expected to be living under the poverty line.

However, Afghanaid has been working to rebuild and restore the village, helping over 1,505 households to access safe and secure shelter. In the first week of December, families started moving back to the village, into newly constructed homes.

I have told [my sons] to come home now because we have a new house. When they return, we will have a celebration with them and all our neighbours too and welcome everyone who has come home at last.

Read the full story of Lokah Mazar in The Times

Lokah Mazar village, Richard Pohle/The Times

With our support, Shakila's family can start anew

In the north of the country, Shakila* has lived in her village - nestled in the remote mountains of Samangan province - for 25 years. For a long time she lived happily with her beloved husband and five children but sadly, 18 years ago, Shakila lost her husband in a roadside mine accident. She continues to be devastated by this loss, “When my husband was killed, I was very young. From the bottom of my heart, I am always sad for my children.”

My wish was always that my children and I would be self-sufficient.

Due to the social stigma associated with being a single mother, and the difficulties many Afghan women face in finding secure work, Shakila worried about her children's unclear future, and had no family or friends living locally to rely on for support. 

Determined to make a better life for them, she found work where she could, “I started working as a cleaner for other families in order to meet my family's basic needs and ensure my children could access education.” Thanks to Shakila’s resilience, whilst they did not have much, the family got by.

However, unfortunately the family were faced with yet another challenge when a recent deadly flood struck their remote village. Shakila remembers all too well what happened the day the flood struck: “We were at the dining table, and heard voices come from outside saying ‘Go out from your homes, the flood is coming!’ I hurried out of the house, and saw that the flood had covered our entire neighbourhood... I took my children with me and got out of the flood, but I lost both my house and my dreams.”

After this devastating loss, the family had to find shelter wherever possible; living in temporary rented accommodation, and sometimes even in tents. Sadly, thousands of families across Afghanistan are currently in a similar position to Shakila - with Afghanistan currently facing one of the world's worst displacement crises, it is estimated that over 5.8 million people in the country are internally displaced.

When Afghanaid visited Shakila's village to provide support to families, she immediately identified herself as in need of shelter assistance. “[Afghanaid] made me a new house including two bedrooms, a living room, and a kitchen... This saved me and my children from living in tents and rented houses.” We have been able to assist over 320 families affected by these floods.

This support has been life-changing for Shakila’s family, who can now rebuild their lives and start planning for the future. Shakila told us, “I am thankful to Afghanaid for their financial and technical support, and for helping me survive. I am happy that now we own our own shelter, and can live without any shock and stress because Afghanaid was there to support us.”

Wondering how you can help?

Families like Shakila's across Afghanistan face are living through a protracted, multi-layered crisis. They need sustained support to recover from the challenges they face, strengthen their livelihoods and build sustainable, collaborative and prosperous communities so that they can thrive for years to come. To help us reach that goal, join Afghanaid's regular giving community today to support tens of thousands of vulnerable Afghans families in the months and years ahead:

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*We have changed her name to protect her privacy