RET’s concern for the plight of Afghan refugees dates back to our inception. For over a decade RET has accompanied Afghan communities when they fled to Pakistan and upon their return in Afghanistan. As 2013 came to an end, RET’s commitment was granted both the Award from the Upper House of the National Assembly of Afghanistan and the Massoud National Hero Medal.
These recognitions are addressed to Ms Zeynep Gündüz, RET’s CEO and Executive Director for her perseverance and strong belief in the role youth education plays in the advancement of communities and the empowerment of young women. She has personally visited the country numerous times since 2004 and created a strong and lasting link between RET and the local communities.
For RET however, these awards are essentially to be credited to our local Programme Manager and his teams and partners, which have served their communities with a commitment and passion that has never failed. It is their work we wish to celebrate.
RET’s projects in Afghanistan (in the provinces of Parwan, Panjshir, and Badakhshan, and previously in Bamyan and Kabul) focus particularly on underprivileged young women (many of them war widows), former displaced young women, and others who have discontinued education due to the conflict. They are provided with a sense of empowerment, independence, confidence and self-reliance through training in basic health skills, income generation, literacy and numeracy including sciences and mathematics as well as information technology. Educating these vulnerable young people in these fields gives them countless more opportunities than they would otherwise have had. This education offers them protection, while enabling them to participate in the reconstruction of their communities and country.
The Shura and the Upper House’s Observation Commission monitor the activities of the government sector and NGOs working in Afghanistan. Delegations and observers from the Upper House have visited RET’s projects, especially the library, laboratory and training of 20 master trainers in science and mathematics. Mr Mohammad Alam Ezadyar, First Deputy of the Upper House, personally visited RET’s four learning centres for women delivering livelihood support (technical training, poultry farming, bee keeping and managing green houses) and small business training.
Afghanistan’s National Radio and Television broadcast the news of RET’s awards on 16 November 2013, covering the award ceremony in which RET’s Programme Manager, Moqim Qaumi received the award on behalf of Ms Zeynep Gündüz.
Receiving both the Award from the Upper House of the National Assembly of Afghanistan and the Massoud National Hero Medal has been a great honour filling us with emotion and gratitude. The real reward, however, is the strong signal that RET’s constant affirmation of the importance of education for peace-building and social and economic stabilisation of communities is recognised and shared by both the Afghan administration and civil society.