Israeli aid agency connects Afghani women to counseling

SmartAID is working with local groups in Afghanistan that offer mental health support to vulnerable women.

By Abigail Klein Leichman, Israel21c

Vulnerable Afghani women now have reliable telecommunications access so that local mental health workers can continue supporting their psychosocial needs during the current unrest, thanks to an Israeli nonprofit.

SmartAID is providing cell phones, solar-powered battery packs, and data packages to at-risk women in Afghanistan.

“After a lengthy civil war and during the time of the Taliban, we know that women were excluded from daily life, not able to go to school, work, seek medical help, or even leave their homes,” says SmartAID Founding Director Shachar Zahavi.

He noted that the UN Secretary General recently expressed concern about mounting violations against women in Afghanistan.

“Women and their families show high levels of trauma as well as extremely high levels of mental distress. Mental health is fundamental to our ability to think, interact with each other, earn a living, and lead fulfilling lives,” says Zahavi.

The communications package provided by SmartAID is designed to be functional even when there is no electricity, Zahavi explains. Staff and facilitators will receive routinely updated guidance on how to safely use these packages.

“The assistance is all localized,” he adds. “The mental-health providers speak Dari and Pashto. They will continue to offer guidance and counsel to the women even if they are isolated in their homes.

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SmartAID Australia is running a GoFundMe campaign to support this project.