Latest news from the Afghan Appeal Fund June 2015

Posted on June 15, 2015 · Posted in News

A message from Caroline Richards

Two years ago, following the shocking murder of Lee Rigby on the streets of London, the head of the security services rang my husband who was then Chief of the Defence Staff. He had a message for the Armed Forces. ‘Will you please tell your men that no terrorist act has been planned or perpetrated from Afghanistan since they deployed to Afghanistan as part of the NATO International Security and Assistance Force.’ There may have been many failures in Afghanistan but it would be wrong to say it was without success; we should not forget his words.

The West should also not forget it’s debt to the people of Afghanistan; they were our allies following the atrocity of 9/11. Many millions have voted for Ashraf Ghani to be President and his cabinet is now in place; the judiciary have recently acted very swiftly to bring the killers of Farkhunda to justice. The country still requires our help following the last 35 years of conflict. This may be an unfashionable view but the people of Afghanistan are not asking for the earth; just to stick with them and recognise the part they played.

To forget Afghanistan would be to forget the sacrifice made by so many people who lost their lives or were injured there. One injured soldier said to me, ‘I do not have PTSD; but I do feel really upset when I hear that fighting has broken out again in Iraq’. It was clear he found this very difficult. In other words it is the value we place on their sacrifice and what has been achieved that is so important. Mistakes were made, but deserting Afghanistan now would be the biggest mistake of all. We can bury our heads in the desert sand but it would be wise to consider other countries in the region and the rise of Daesh. Our foreign aid budget should be spent in line with this country’s national interest.

The Afghan Appeal Fund is now in it’s 10th year and we are working on an 11th school; this is our third and most ambitious school in partnership with Dr.Mohammad in the heart of Helmand province. It is a ground breaking project for seventeen hundred boys and girls with demand for places rising steadily. We are hugely grateful for two very generous donations which combined with a whole host of smaller ones has enabled us to build on this successful project and continue with the first floor adding a library and computer room. A recent innovation is a sanitation officer to teach hygiene and the use of the latrines; a separate latrine for teachers is also being constructed. Health and education go hand in hand.

We cannot thank you enough for your help…from the bottom of our hearts! I would also like to thank our volunteers and trustees who are are so vital to our work.

Caroline Richards


School in Helmand

We were delighted to see Mohammad in November on his way back from Helmand and hear of the progress at the school. There are now over 1700 students in lessons including 550 girls which is an incredible achievement.

Construction work of the main school is now complete – 36 rooms including 24 classrooms, teachers rooms, store rooms and computer labs, 32 latrines and 2 wells. The gate in the central wall is in place so that the girls have their own half of the school – they arrive and leave 15 minutes earlier than the boys to avoid any crossover.

We are hugely grateful to all of you who have contributed time, effort and money to this school over the last 3 years.

In March we received a very generous private donation which has allowed Mohammad to begin work on a library for the school as well as fit out the computer lab and install a satellite internet connection. He is there now and working as hard as ever to get the work finished. The entire school will be painted over the Summer holidays.

Afghanistan Debate at RCDS

It was a superb evening and full house at the Royal College of Defence Studies for ‘Afghanistan – Unfinished Business?’ hosted by the AAF in November.  A fascinating and insightful panel discussion from (L-R) economist John Dowdy, author Ahmed Rashid, journalist and panel chair Robert Fox, previous Chief of the Defence Staff General the Lord Richards and past UK Ambassador to Afghanistan Sir William Patey. Thank you to everyone who came – we hope you enjoyed it.

Female Teacher Training

Phil Grabsky who directed and produced the films ‘The Boy Who Played on the Buddhas of Bamyan’ and ‘The Boy Mir’ has been raising funds through the AAF to support the training of two female teachers for Mir’s village’s school where girls cannot currently study beyond grade 4 due to the lack of female teachers.
The girls are already 1 year into their course and have been back to the village to teach during the school holidays. You can support them here:

 Godfrey Smith

Godfrey Smith of Afghan Schools Trust sadly passed away in January after an illness. He was passionate about education in Afghanistan and will be sadly missed. A memorial fund has been established to raise funds to finish one of Godfrey’s school projects in Faryab province:

Thank you to all of you who have supported us financially and practically – we are most grateful to you. We would particularly like to thank the British and Foreign School Society (BFSS) and the Linda Norgrove Foundation for their generous contributions to Shin Kalay.Cricket – we are very sorry not to have been able to host a fifth annual cricket match this year, but intend to make up for it in 2016. Thank you to Kamal Alam and Freshfields for their continued support.Support us: you can donate online at We are a wholly voluntary organisation, so everything you raise or donate goes directly to the school build.Best wishes to you all
Caroline, Mel and the AAF Trustees


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