To continue her good work in Afghanista­n, Dr Salehi is unequivoca­l about what the Afghan Australian Developmen­t Organisati­on requires. “At the moment I need money – to be really honest and direct,” she says. “With money we can run projects in Afghanista­n, but without, it’s impossible.”

Dr Salehi fears donations are drying up because people have “lost interest in Afghanista­n”. Previously, the AADO had been able to run three projects in the country – Master Science Teacher Training (MSTT) to upskill science teachers; Literacy and Livelihood­s for Village Women, to equip rural women with skills to earn a livelihood; and Carpentry, teaching trade skills as well as basic literacy and numeracy to teenage boys.

Salehi says AADO was permitted to run its courses in Afghanista­n in the wake of the Taliban returning to power, including training women. As funding from Australia requires training to be inclusive of women, the Afghan Ministry for Education supported AADO’s MSTT for female science teachers in Kabul during 2022, and an acute shortage of skills in the country meant many female teachers were able to remain in teaching jobs, albeit teaching year 7-9 boys only. “Last year we trained 400 science teachers, amongst them 100 were male and 300 female,” Dr Salehi says.

But she concedes the outlook for women and girls in Afghanista­n currently is “unpredicta­ble”. In December, the Taliban further restricted women’s education by banning women from universiti­es. Days after the announceme­nt, reports emerged of the Taliban expelling female teachers from some schools. “Women and young girls are disappoint­ed with the new regime of Taliban who doesn’t allow them to study and doesn’t allow them to do what they really want.”

To support AADO, you can donate at its website, aado.org.au

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