Donating to a school in Afghanistan
January 25, 2009 8:19 PM   Subscribe

What are the banks and mail system like in Afghanistan?

I would like to coordinate donations to a girls' school in Kandahar, Afghanistan. I need to know:

1) How to send money to a bank in Afghanistan. What is their banking system like?

2) How reliable is the mail system? Does UPS go to Afghanistan?

If you have any other thoughts on how to donate directly to a school in Afghanistan, please share. I appreciate it. Thanks.
posted by KimikoPi to Society & Culture (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I take it you're after something specific? There's no way to donate safely to an organization in another country that does the charitable work themselves?

In other words, you want to send it directly to a specific school, and not just an organization like OxFam that helps schools in general?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:30 PM on January 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

In the book Opium Season: A Year on the Afghan Frontier, writer Joel Hafvenstein describes working on a USAID-funded cash-for-work project in Helmand Province (just west of Kandahar). One of the primary challenges that he describes is dealing with payroll because of the lack of a banking system.

It's a very interesting read, and highlights the difficulty of doing any kind of business in Afghanistan. Transparency International ranks Afghanistan as the 5th most corrupt country in the world, trailing Somalia, Myanmar, Iraq, and Haiti.

I would suggest donating to the Central Asia Institute, which "promote[s] and support[s] community-based education, especially for girls, in remote regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan." You can read all about it- and the huge difficulties in realizing the goal- in the book Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace, One School at a Time.
posted by charmcityblues at 8:43 PM on January 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

As others noted above, getting stuff to Afghanistan is extremely difficult. For all intents and purposes, the entire country is a war zone with hyper-corrupt government at the local level fractured in a way that people in the developed world often have trouble grasping, because we're just not used to areas of countries being functionally independent and opposed to central government. The word "warlord" is used a lot in news coverage for good reason, and situations like that generally make things like banking systems untenable.

I believe FedEx will fly to Afghanistan by way of a subcontractor - but without hunting too deeply, I'd suspect that effecively means Kabul. Getting school supplies to a rural schools is a huge logistical problem; NGOs that are built to do this kind of thing still struggle enormously with it. If you want to help, it's almost certainly best to find a good organization that works in this specific field and work through them, rather than trying to solve very very difficult problems on your own. Hopefully someone better-informed than I am about the specifics of current humanitarian efforts in the area can be along to suggest specific groups.
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:15 PM on January 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

Some links that might help:



posted by watercarrier at 4:05 AM on January 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

I can't speak for the service of the US mail or UPS, but FedEx definitely ships to Afghanistan, including destinations other than Kabul. Their Afghanistan page is here.
posted by emelenjr at 7:54 AM on January 26, 2009

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