UMCOR helps Afghan villagers return home
3/20/2003 News media contact: Linda Bloom · (646) 369-3759 · New York
By United Methodist News ServiceVillagers
in the Bagram Province of Afghanistan are regaining their homes and
their lives with assistance from the United Methodist Committee on
The agency's $635,847 Integrated Community Rehabilitation
Project emphasizes "high impact interventions" in a small area,
according to Henry Hamilton, UMCOR's head of mission in Kabul,
"As far as I know, we are the only implementers
doing such a thorough project," Hamilton told United Methodist News
Service in a March 19 e-mail message. "We have made it possible for 70
percent of the exiled people to return to our targeted area."
90 percent of the 200 homes that UMCOR committed to rebuild in Bagram
are complete. The project also includes rehabilitating water sources,
such as wells and irrigation networks; providing seeds, pesticides and
fertilizers; and providing income opportunities through loans. The
villagers are active participants in the work.
To help with the
upcoming planting season, for example, UMCOR has distributed spring
wheat seed and fertilizer to 600 farmers and vineyards, as well as
orchard rootstock to 200 farmers. The total distribution is 30,000
plants, according to Hamilton.
UMCOR also is putting the
finishing touches on a 1,600-student high school in the Panjshair Valley
and is awaiting the arrival of 2,000 school kits for distribution.
"This project was actually a project being funded by Masood (the Taliban
opposition leader) before his assassination," he said.
is trying to raise funds to expand UMCOR's work to surrounding villages
in the Shumali Plain, many of which were nearly destroyed. "Much of this
farming population is displaced in Kabul, many (living) in tents and
partially destroyed buildings," he added.
If the displaced people
could be returned to their villages, they could raise the agricultural
products that nearby residents of Kabul must now import from Pakistan,
"By putting a roof over their heads, assuring
potable water access and supplying them with the basic agricultural
inputs to restart their economic activities, these people could begin to
rebuild their lives and communities independently," Hamilton said. "I
am passionately pushing for funds to accomplish this vital mending of
the communities around Kabul."
Donations to support UMCOR's work
in Afghanistan should be earmarked for Advance No. 982540-1, "Global
Peace Building and Reconcilation - Afghanistan." Checks can be dropped
in local church collection plates or mailed directly to UMCOR at 475
Riverside Dr., Room 330, New York, NY 10115. Credit-card donations can
be made by calling (800) 554-8583. Donations also can be made online at
http://gbgm-umc.org/umcor, the agency's Web site.
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