Historical background A landlocked country in the heart of
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Historical background: *A landlocked country in the heart of Asia *Intersection of three regions: Central Asia, South Asia & the Gulf regions *Population around 22 millions *Had three principle names: -Aryana in antiquity -Khurasan in the medieval era -Afghanistan in modern times *During 962 – 1030 CE, establishment of Islamic era and became (arguably) the centre of Islamic power and civilization Political background in the 20th century: 1991-1929 – Reformist King Amanuallah & Queen Soraya 1929-1930 – Tribal extremist & end of all the reforms 1960-1970 – Intellectual revolution 1979-1989 - Soviet invasion & Afghan-Soviet war 1992-2001 – Duranline Contract 100 years at an end. US funded Project Warlordism- implemented in bordering Iran and Pakistan at a peak. - Taliban Regime begins 2001-present – USA & coalition forces invasion & ‘Warlordism’ Cultural background Language: Dari, Pashtu & other languages (bilingualism is very common) Ethnicity: A blend of 26 races - Pashtuns, Tajiks, Uzbecs, Hazars, Turkmen, Nuristanis and many others War and Human Losses: -Over 32 years of war & occupation -Over 2 million people were killed -(20% were children) -3 million people internally displaced -2-3% of the population became disabled people -Over 6,700,000 refugee population in neighboring countries -Destruction of all sectors including education Life as refugees -deprived of education -deprived of legal protection as refugees -Denied the right of citizenship and access to education -Dramatic decline of literacy level and increase of child labour Afghan Refugees in BC One of the top three groups in BC for the past 5 years. From January 2003 to March 2005, 25% of all Government Sponsored Refugees are Afghans. 56% of all Afghan clients settled in Burnaby. Among the families with single parents, the majority are single mothers who lost their husbands in war. Settlement issues and obstacles -War trauma and the effect of violence, torture, and different forms of abuses. -depression, isolation and lack of a community support network. -Poor health conditions and limited access to healthcare −Low literacy as a result of long-term deprivation from a normal education, inconsistent and inadequate education system. -language barriers -Financial dependence, created low self-esteem & low motivation -Limited opportunities to appreciating their qualifications and survival skills. -Women are marginalized within a marginalized community. • Raising Children in an alien culture • Family Income and Women’s • Poor health conditions and limited health education • Lack of culturally appropriate centres • Social Isolation –Lack of language-specific resources -Racial profiling since September 11th. -depression, isolation and lack of community support network. -Lack of community awareness about their needs. Community solutions • Since 2003 a group of 11 women met, spent over 1300 volunteer hours to find solutions to their common social and economic problems by taking the matter into their own hands to eliminate their dependence on social assistance Afghan Women’s Co-op – a grass-root community based initiative with focus on: 1) Development of the Co-operative – group development by training needs and experiential learning models -business development 2) Development and testing of an experiential learning model for new immigrant and refugee women 3) Identification of policy and program recommendations to support immigrants and refugees Group diversity •Refugee experiences from varied places •Increasing Afghan women’s equality in community economic development •Increasing Afghan women’s capacity to manage and govern their co-op with full autonomy •Provide policy recommendation to create an enabling environment for new immigrant women. Partnerships -The Afghan-Canadian Women’s Network has provided the initial leadership for the group. The ACWN has been instrumental in developing networks and opportunities for the co-op. -Vancity provide financial support −Devco has been contracted to incorporate the co-operative and provide significant development assistance. − The Immigrant Services Society of BC is supporting the Co-op by applying for funding applications, initially taking responsibility for coordination and implementation of the Co-op project with the goal of building the capacity of members to run their Co-op autonomously. - CCEDNet in partnership with ISS is supporting co-op development within urban immigrant and refugee communities - mentoring and coaching role, leveraging learning opportunities and developing and implementing an evaluation system for the overall project. Challenges from different perspectives: • Co-op members • Community • Organizations • Funding agencies Development and Cultural Values -Attempt to sustainable development work: war, uncertain refugee environment, and inadequate community capacity -cultural factors also appear to present obstacles to development: factors are mixture of values that derive from culture, ethnicity, and religion, and tend to be lumped together as ‘cultural values’. -core concern of sustainability be soundly rooted in the context and the consciousness of cultural background (immigrants culture) -immigrants cultural values in conflict with mainstream values, and mainstream ethics. Dialogue to establish a common understanding is often abbreviated or absent. The discussion about cultural values is often regarded as too sensitive to even embark on. -The result is that ‘development’ remains largely an activity initiated by Canadians, which new immigrants receive but which they themselves do not initiate let alone control. -Development is much more than material benefits, and is the sum of people’s own aspirations, efforts, and learning towards bettering themselves materially, socially, intellectually, and spiritually. -Co-operatives should examine how far programs are relevant to immigrant’s values. The focus must be on training members of the co- op in detailed social and community work, engage communities in a dialogue that seeks understanding with their values and can therefore lead to a sustainable development process that goes beyond the field of a co-operative. Conclusions -People are threatened when their values are attacked or disappeared. -For foreigners to challenge these values as counter development will not met with a positive response. Programs to take these values as the given starting point and work within them. -A shift in perceptions is needed. -The role of a development worker as social animators. -Discussion on cultural values to be encouraged and supported. -Co-operatives should examine how far programs are relevant to immigrant’s values. The focus must be on training members of the co- op in detailed social and community work, engage communities in a dialogue that seeks understanding with their values and can therefore lead to a sustainable development process that goes beyond the field of a co-operative.