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Help starts as soon as they arrive at the airport

Ein Mann mit einer Sonnebrille sitzt an einen Schreibtisch und hat einen Laptop vor sich.
Hamid*, project manager at AWARD

The AWARD organisation in particular assists women and young returnees to rebuild their lives in Afghanistan. It is a partner in the “Returning to New Opportunities” programme run by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). This involves working closely with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, which implements the programme. Programme manager Hamid* talks about the objectives of the “Afghan Women Association for Rehabilitation and Development” and the services it provides.

What is the AWARD approach all about?
We started our work as far back as 1995. We provided humanitarian support at a refugee camp in Mazār-i-Sharīf during the Afghan civil war. This involved us providing food and training courses for women. Supporting women is still our focus, because it can’t be right for half the population to be ignored. Women in Afghanistan are often still not taken seriously and don’t have a voice in society. So we involve women at all levels of our work. Our organisation provides environments where they can express themselves freely and where someone listens to them.

Eine Frau steht an einer Tafel und erklärt etwas. Vor ihr stehen vier junge Männer. Vor ihnen auf dem Tisch liegen Stoffe.
An AWARD trainer with participants in a tailoring training course

What roles do training and employment play in this?
We believe that financial stability and economic independence are key aspects. That’s why AWARD offers women and men theoretical and practical training courses. These courses enable them to participate in rebuilding our country. Our overall programme covers health, education, jobs, careers and agricultural production. This involves us collaborating with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and other international organisations. We want to empower all Afghans to work, and don’t discriminate against anyone based on their gender or origin.

How do you reach out to returnees from Germany and what in particular do you offer them?
Our services are aimed primarily at returnees from Germany. We meet them at the airport and arrange accommodation for them for the first few days. We also provide them with household items and start-up money for rent or renovations. We were able to assist 144 returnees within just a few months. Most are young men between the ages of 18 and 26. Other services are aimed at returnees from other EU countries. We also assist returnees from Pakistan and Iran, those displaced within Afghanistan, as well as widows and families that have lost relatives due to politically motivated violence.

Fünf junge Männer beugen sich über einen Tisch mit technischen Bauteilen.
Young Afghans attending an AWARD technical training course

What job opportunities can you offer returnees from Germany and the EU?
We offer a range of work support services and help people to help themselves. Returnees are employed for 40 days as part of a “cash for work” programme, for instance, and they receive a wage at the end of each day. This involves us cooperating with the city government in Kabul. The city employs the returnees as gardeners, construction workers or cleaners to maintain schools, parks and orphanages. The city also provides a training course in bookkeeping.

In which areas do you provide training?
We offer training courses in mobile phone repair, pipe fitting, tailoring and design. We cooperate with Afghan companies to do this. We collaborate with the market leader in the production of water pipes, for example. We train those who are interested in pipe fitting and introduce them to the company at the end of the six-month training course. This gives them a good chance of being offered a job. We also provide tools for the period after their training. This means participants don't have to get into debt to buy their initial equipment.

Do you also provide advice on starting a business?
Yes. These training courses are structured according to the International Labour Organisation’s ILO guidelines. Once the participants have jointly developed their business plan with us and completed their training, we provide them with start-up assistance to put their business idea into practice. We fund budding entrepreneurs in fields such as livestock breeding, online marketing or teaching foreign languages. Our experience shows that Afghanistan has lots of potential in different areas.

*Pseudonym

As of: 04/2021

We want to empower all Afghans to work, and don’t discriminate against anyone based on their gender or origin.
Hamid*