Christian Children's Fund, working in Afghanistan as ChildFund Afghanistan, has received a $4.7 million grant to provide vocational training to more than 4,500 ex-combatant soldiers. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) grant is designed to re-integrate former soldiers — loyal to warlords in the north — into their communities.
This grant is part of the UNDP Afghanistan New Beginnings Program.
To date, CCF/CFA has assisted approximately 2,000 of the 3,900 ex-combatants registered with the organization.
"We talk to them as individuals about what sort of options they are interested in and their income possibilities when they are in a community," said Richard Thwaites, national director for the Aghanistan office.
"When we find out that what they really want to do is to get into sheep farming or the cattle business, we go to their homes to see if the individual can realistically work with sheep, cattle, fish, orchard growing or whatever."
Upon discharge from the armed services, many of the ex-combatants — former farmers and herders — choose similar career opportunities. CCF/CFA provides wheat seed and fertilizers, and perhaps as important, the organization teaches the participants sound and cost-effective business practices.
The organization will also provide instruction concerning how to run a business with an introduction in loans and saving. Loans made to the ex-combatants in this program are small, averaging $5O. If the ex-combatants pay back a loan within the time allotted, they are eligible for the CCF/CFA Micro-enterprise program.
CCF/CFA also teaches the ex-combatants how to read and write.
“We are essentially teaching them how to be good citizens within their communities,” Thwaites said.