The Afghanistan Relief Organization is a non-political, non-religious 501c3 nonprofit, humanitarian organization. ARO provides an educational center for girls, boys, women and men in Kabul, and delivers relief aid (food, medicine, school supplies and winter relief supplies) directly into the hands of the needy throughout Afghanistan.
Founded in the United States in 1998—and registered as a non governmental organization (NGO) of good standing in Afghanistan—ARO is managed by Afghan and American volunteers, of all backgrounds and faiths. ARO’s official work focuses solely on Afghanistan, although our volunteers assisted with aid efforts to the Gulf after Hurricane Katrina and in Sri Lanka after the tsunami.
As a grassroots organization with no paid staff in the U.S., ARO minimizes overhead by requiring volunteers to pay their own way on relief trips. ARO organizes airlifts or relief supply shipments via humanitarian transports, and works directly with local community leadership to facilitate the direct distribution of relief aid.
ARO has received support from the British Embassy in Kabul, the European Union, and has worked with the US military on airlifting relief supplies. The programs and relief trips of ARO's volunteers have been reported in Orange Coast Magazine, the Orange County Register, CNN, and The LA Weekly, among other publications.
In 2003, ARO established an educational center in Kabul, offering computer classes, Dari, Pashtu, English, math, science, and job skill training classes. Secondary students are assisted with university preparation classes and Test of English as a Foreign Language™ (TOEFL) so they may pursue higher education. Guest teacher programs also have been offered, including a poetry discussion class on the works of 13th Century Afghan poet, Rumi. Students also participate in extra curricular sports, such as boys’ soccer and girls’ karate. The school has experienced rapid growth and now has over 1200 youth and adult students. Classes operate from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. to accommodate those who wish to learn.
- Technology Education Center: ARO’s educational center in Kabul, near Kabul University (Kartay Chaar) offers computer, Dari, Pashtu, English, math, science, and job skill training classes, along with a variety of programs offered by guest lecturers, including a poetry discussion class focused on the works of 13th Century Afghan poet, Rumi. The school has experienced rapid growth: the 1100+ students include girls and boys in academic programs, and men and women in vocational and literacy programs. Classes operate from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. to accommodate those who wish to learn. Back to Top
- Afghan Native Languages: Dari and Pashto classes were initiated in late 2006, with adult students enrolled in a one-year program. After one year, students are introduced to advance schools to continue their education. Most of these students are intermediate and high school students who come from low-income families and face language problems in school. Native language instruction assists students in their advancement to other educational institutions. Back to Top
- TOEFL: ARO offers the Test of English as a Foreign Language™ (TOEFL) class, which provides student instruction in conversational English, grammar, listening skills, reading and writing. Twenty-five young men and women recently completed the TOEFL program successfully. TOEFL is offered in 180 countries around the world, usually at colleges and universities. More than 6,000 institutions and agencies in 110 countries rely on TOEFL scores to select students with the English skills needed to succeed. Back to Top
- Women’s Literacy Program: In May 2005, ARO established the first of a series of women’s literacy classes. The classes are designed to fast-track women who desperately need literacy and vocational training to support their families. In order to make it possible for these women to attend class, they are paid $50.00(US) / month for family support. After students complete the programs first three levels, they study English as a second language and math. The program is assisted by private donations. Back to Top
- Vocational Program-The Sewing Initiative / Micro Business Development: The Sewing Initiative teaches Afghan women sewing and home-based business skills, along with literacy training. Featuring intricate Afghan embroidery, the women of the Sewing Initiative create beautiful shawls, dresses, tunics and items for sale in the United States. They may sell to whomever they wish and establish a neighborhood tailoring business. The Sewing Initiative helps Afghan women support their families, while preserving a traditional art of the Afghan culture. Back to Top
- Vocational program-Nursing: In May 2006, volunteers inaugurated an introductory nursing program at ARO’s educational center, funding initial supplies, textbooks, equipment and instruction by medical professionals. There is a shortage of healthcare workers with basic nursing skills, while the Afghan population has significant public health needs. Afghan women in the nursing program can gain culturally acceptable employment and help their families become self sufficient. The first class of 30 recently was accepted for employment and additional hands-on training at Maiwand Hospital in Kabul, and the second class of 30 has commenced. Back to Top
- Vocational program-Auto Mechanics: ARO inaugurated an auto mechanics vocational education program at the end of December 2005. A mechanical shop area was created to provide training for approximately thirty adult students in engine diagnostics and repair, auto body repair and painting. Private donors provided approximately $5,000.00 (US) of mechanical shop equipment listed below for this vocational program. Adult students receive instruction in basic tool usage, welding, basic repair and part manufacturing. These needed skills allow Afghans to gain employment and become self-sufficient. Back to Top
- Vocational program-Plumbing: In May 2006, volunteers inaugurated a plumbing vocational program, with initial two-year funding of $6,000.00 (US) from volunteer donation efforts. Funds were used to prepare a new classroom area for the program and pay for a qualified instructor. Plumbing skills are in high demand in a country with aging / damaged household infrastructure and in new construction. Graduates of the plumbing program are employable, allowing them to become self-sufficient. Back to Top
- Vocational program-Carpentry: Graduates of this one-year program make chairs, sofas, tables, doors, windows, cupboards and other cabinetry of furniture items. Similar to graduates in the Plumbing Course, graduates of the Carpentry Course are needed as part of the country-wide reconstruction effort. Back to Top
- Vocational program-Electrician: Students are enrolled in the Electrician Course for one year. Graduates of the Electrician Course will find work opportunities in private houses for rewiring, wiring and other electronic work. Students acquire skills allowing them to own their own business, or find employment repairing TVs, radios, irons, computers, washing machines and other electronic equipment. Back to Top
- Basic Relief Supplies: In February 2002, ARO was on the first commercial plane into Kabul in over 30 years, delivering Winter Relief supplies (blankets, coats, clothing) as a result of the humanitarian flight of Oregon-based Evergreen Airlines. Prior to that, ARO relief teams made their way into Afghanistan through areas not controlled by the Taliban. Today, relief shipments are airlifted with the USAID via the U.S. military, and by other humanitarian shipping methods. Winter in Afghanistan poses extremely harsh conditions, and ARO continues to distribute winter clothing, blankets, and shoes. A current effort is the procurement and distribution of tents in refugee camps for basic shelter needs. Back to Top
- School Supplies Project: This project provides school supplies for the education of Afghanistan’s girls and boys, who returned to school in March 2002. Basic items distributed are: pens/pencils, backpacks/book bags, scissors, rulers, and art supplies. Religious materials are not accepted. Regular distributions of school supplies are focused toward underserved “tent schools” in rural areas. Back to Top
- Student Sports: A healthy range of activities is encouraged of young students, including girl’s karate and boy’s soccer. Sports activities generate teamwork, positive morale, self esteem, and good health. Student athletes now regularly compete in their respective sports, encouraging goal-setting and directing their youthful energy in a positive manner. Student sports programs need regular funding for uniforms, equipment and nutritional supplements. Back to Top
- Health Services: Established 2006, ARO provides healthcare services to 1100+ students and their families. Volunteer donations raised funds to pay salaries for visiting doctors for the first two-year period, as well as basic equipment and a pharmacy supply. Healthcare services are provided by Afghan medical doctors to ARO students at no charge. In addition to medical aid, ARO currently is establishing a dental clinic at the center with the assistance of a visiting American dentist. Afghan dentists will receive training, and provide ongoing dental care for students. ARO also collects hygiene supplies and non-prescription medical / first aid supplies, which are distributed in rural areas with relief supplies. Medicines are distributed to qualified medical providers, such as hospitals and clinics. Back to Top
- Greenhouse and Re-Greening: ARO constructed a greenhouse, or “gulkhana,” at the education center in Kabul, and works with Seeds for Afghanistan to distribute food and floral seeds. Ornamental plants propagated at the greenhouse are used on the grounds—to create a green environment for students—and are distributed to the surrounding neighborhood. In early spring 2006, ARO received six-thousand seedling plants which were distributed to ARO students to distribute as a student re-greening project. The seedling plants included apple trees, pear trees, walnut trees, peach trees. ARO held seminars and class discussions for students to teach them the importance of trees in the environment. Back to Top
Financial donations: ARO is a registered 501c3 non-profit, and your donations are tax deductible as allowable by the federal IRS tax code. Your contribution for general relief aid can be made online (Papal) at our website donation page, www.afghanrelief.com, by check to the “Afghanistan Relief Organization”, and by selecting Afghanistan Relief Organization to receive a percentage of sales when you shop at www.giveline.com.
Why donate money? ARO needs funds on a continual basis to pay teacher salaries and maintain the education center in Kabul. Your contributions help keep the doors open to free education for the future leaders of Afghanistan. Originally, ARO accepted donations of basic relief supplies for shipment to Afghanistan because those supplies were not readily available in the country. Today, financial donations help ARO purchase relief supplies now more available in the region. This avoids shipping costs and supports the restoration of the Afghan economy by buying within the region. Please talk to us about in-kind donations and we can help determine if it is appropriate for shipment.
The Wish List: Financial and in-kind donation needs include: support for education programs and teacher training in rural areas; refugee camp and rural community water systems; portable, waterproof shelters for refugee camps; solar radios for information and education outreach; solar cooking, lighting and heating equipment