Returning to Afghanistan six years ago, after 25 years of exile, I found my country completely destroyed. Not only was there a complete devastation of its infrastructure, but along with it had gone the heart and souls of its people. Poverty was abundant and so were children – on the streets, running between cars, polishing shoes, selling water and begging for money. In schools children were sitting on bare, cold, dusty floors writing with broken pencils on paper that had been used and reused numerous times already. At present there is a tremendous need for improvements in both the facilities and materials needed for education as well as increased overall awareness of the impoverished state of education in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan is home to an almost inconceivable number of orphans, the current estimates are in the hundreds of thousands and one million children suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome. Afghanistan is afflicted by one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world (135 per 1,000 live births in 2006) and malnutrition remains prevalent. A large number of Afghan children, in particular girls, still do not have access to education and are fated to be illiterate.
The Ayenda Foundation was founded in 2006 in partnership with the U.S.-Afghan Women's Council to support and protect Afghanistan’s most valuable and vulnerable natural resource: its children. The Ayenda Foundation will contribute to Afghanistan’s rebuilding effort and help our children gain the confidence and the skills necessary to begin writing a new chapter of Afghan history, one defined by peace and prosperity.