Since 2006, Visions for Children e.V. has been committed to ensuring that every child is given the opportunity to obtain a high-quality basic education with which they can acquire basic skills. We particularly build on and contribute to the fourth sustainability goal of the United Nations’ Agenda 2030 – namely to ensure an equitable and high-quality education. We believe schools to be anchor points that give children the chance of a self-determined future by means of capacity building within the entire region.
When and where was your first school built?
Our first school building project started in 2006 at Kabul, Afghanistan's Kalay Fatullah primary and secondary school. At that time, 340 students attended the school in two shifts because the few and small existing classrooms did not offer enough space for all children. Lack of space, rundown sanitary facilities, missing windows and broken roofs led to a high absentee rate. Many parents did not even enrol their children in school because of the poor conditions.
At that time, our team consisted of only a few volunteer students who had just founded the association. But small immediate measures already significantly improved the quality of learning: new teaching materials, better equipment for the classrooms, new windows and roofs that protected students from wind and weather made concentrated learning possible in the first place. The renovation of the sanitary facilities with a separate area for girls ensured that young girls could also attend school during their period.
With the improved infrastructure, the school's reputation grew, and the number of students increased in the following years: While in 2006 there were 340 students studying at Kalay Fatullah Primary and Secondary School, in 2013 there were already more than 850.
To continue the successful progress, we decided in 2014 to carry out a follow-up project to expand the school building. The construction of a second floor created space for new classrooms, equalized the overcrowded classes and enabled around 150 more students to attend school.
The work at Kalay Fatullah not only provided the starting signal for the founding of Visions for Children e.V., it also shapes the work of our association to this day! The approach to listen to the needs of the population and to consider and promote local structures was firmly anchored in our DNA through this project.
The organisation was founded in 2006, what are some of the goals you are proud of achieving during this time?
Although Visions was only a small, voluntary association at the beginning, the educational work achieved a great impact after only a few years. We were eager to expand on this path and see what other opportunities would open up for our organization if we continued to professionalize. Since then, our full-time team has continued to grow under Hila Limar as chair of the association.
In recent years, the association has made great progress: 20,245 students have been reached and 23 school construction projects have been implemented in Afghanistan and Uganda. The focus of the association's work is on the construction of school buildings and sanitary facilities as well as the establishment of a water supply in war and crisis areas. Always in close partnership with local organizations on site and the beneficiary school communities. With every student reached, the vision of a world in which every child can read and write comes a little closer.
Of course, there have also been numerous challenges over the past 16 years that have made our work enormously difficult. That is inevitable in war and crisis zones, where we implement our education projects. August 2021 brought a crisis of unprecedented proportions for our project work: the Taliban's takeover of power threatened the end of education funding in Afghanistan. However, thanks to our network, expertise and the experience of the past years, we found solutions and ways across conflict borders, so that the education projects could be continued successfully with only a few weeks break. That is something we are particularly proud of, and we won't stop fighting tirelessly for the education of girls and women in Afghanistan.
How can a public member volunteer if they do not have the financial means to donate?
Visions for Children e.V. thrives when our supporters throw their weight behind our mission and our values. It’s not all about the money. Showing your community that you stand with our organisation is very valuable for us. Broadcast your commitment, visit us at our events, and get in touch with us. From starting your own campaign to becoming a member or simply spread our message - there are many ways to support us without having the financial means to donate. Check out our website to find different options on how to get involved. For sure there is something for you too! https://www.visions4children.org/en/get-involved/
What are some of the organisations goals for this year?
Ongoing and emerging wars, the climate crisis, and growing poverty pose an ever-increasing threat to children's education worldwide. 220 million school-age children face educational disruption as a result of current crises. 78.2 million children do not attend school at all and 119.6 million children cannot read or do math even though they attend school. The most vulnerable country is Afghanistan, where access to education has deteriorated dramatically since the Taliban took power, especially for girls and women. Every child has a right to education - this right does not end in times of need. That's why we remain unrelentingly committed to educational justice in crises and war zones.
Just earlier this year, the Taliban enacted additional laws that further restrict access to education for girls and women. One of the most important goals this year is therefore to advocate for the people of Afghanistan, to exert international pressure on the government and to continue our education projects on the ground.
Can you tell us about your Reoccurring Donation scheme and how this is beneficial for those looking to get involved within the project?
We need to join forces to give children hope for a better future. Supporting members are a central pillar of our organization and supporting memberships an easy way to get involved for anyone who can’t volunteer their time or skills. With a monthly donation of €8 or more, you provide us and our projects financial stability so that we can provide children in crisis areas equitable access to education. With your support, you will get exclusive insight into our work. You will receive our newsletter with all important updates on the progress of the organization’s ongoing projects, as well as exclusive access to our meetings, events and meet-ups. You also have the opportunity to volunteer at our events at any time. Become a supporting member and part of our mission to create a world in which every child can read and write. Click here to support!