Positive news from Afghanistan

Discussion in 'Subcontinent & Central Asia' started by ajtr, May 17, 2010.

  1. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Afghanistan's hopeful music revival


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    William Harvey, a classical violinist from Indiana teaches students at the National Institute of Music in Kabul, Afghanistan. In this city where music was illegal less than a decade ago, a new generation of children is being raised to understand its joys –AP Photo

    KABUL: From the outside, it looks like any other school in Kabul. A red two-story building is sealed off from the street by a high wall. A few trees stand in the front yard. Children constantly go in and out.

    But listen carefully. When the noise of the traffic dies down, you can hear the gentle sounds of violins being played and the patter of drums. In this city where music was illegal less than a decade ago, a new generation of children is being raised to understand its joys.

    ''This school is unique in Afghanistan,'' said Muhammad Aziz, a 19-year-old student who dreams of becoming one of the world's greatest players of the tabla, a South Asian drum. ''It's the only professional music school and there are so many good teachers here.''

    The new National Institute of Music has been offering some courses for the past several months, but the formal opening will be later in May.

    The school's aims: to revive long-neglected musical traditions, to stock schools with qualified teachers and, perhaps one day, to form the country's first symphony orchestra.

    Of the school's students - there are 150 now, though there will soon be 300 - half are either orphans or among the tens of thousands of children who spend their days working on Afghanistan's streets.

    Over a 10-year course they'll rediscover old traditions, master new instruments and learn their musical heritage. They'll study the music of Afghanistan, South Asia and the West. It's also a regular school, with courses in English, math and history.

    William Harvey, who came from the United States to teach at the new school, knows what he has found.

    ''Great talent can come from unexpected places,'' said Harvey, a classical violinist from Indiana.

    Just a few years ago, things were very different.

    In 1996, Kabul was captured by Taliban militants as they fought to take over the entire country and impose their version of Islamic fundamentalism. The changes were immediate: men had to wear beards, women had to be veiled or at home.

    Music was destroyed. Joyous Taliban fighters unwound audio cassettes in the streets of Kabul, stringing the tape from trees like Christmas decorations. Only singing was allowed - often limited to religious songs or songs praising the Taliban - and playing musical instruments was banned.

    But in 2001, the Taliban fell, and one man dreamed of musical renewal. Ahmad Sarmast, an Afghan music scholar and the son of a classical composer and conductor, came back to Afghanistan from Australia to rebuild its music scene after 25 years of war and five years of Taliban rule.

    And, he thought, it had to begin with children.

    ''The musical tradition is in a big mess,'' said Sarmast, who formed the school as a joint initiative with the Afghan Education Ministry and Monash University in Australia.

    ''I believe that through music education we can contribute to the revival of those traditions by including them in the formal training now.''

    Sarmast says it will cost about $11 million - in cash and donated equipment - to finish construction and run the school for its first 10 years.

    Funding came from a range of international donors, and nearly 5 tons of musical instruments came from the German government and the German Society of Music Merchants. The curriculum was developed with the help of the National College of Music in London.

    Sarmast is hoping to produce teachers who can re-establish music programs in schools across Afghanistan. In a country with one of the world's worst poverty rates, he is also reaching out to Kabul's poorest children.

    Twelve-year-old Marjan Fidaye used to sell chewing gum to passers-by to help feed her family. Today, she is one of Harvey's violin students.

    Like the other street children, she is paid $30 a month to replace the lost income her family depends upon. But the school's aim is to turn the lives of children like her around, to give them an education; and maybe even a chance at a musical profession one day.

    ''I was selling on the streets before so I'm very happy I came here,'' says Marjan, clutching her violin. ''I want to be a good student, to learn something here, to make something of my life.''
     
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  3. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    More now have access to electricity in Faryab and a new school in Uruzgan inaugurated


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    Faryab and Uruzgan Provinces
    Afghan media reported earlier this week that around 6000 families in the Shirin Tagab district of Afghanistan’s northern province of Faryab now have electricity. They are no longer dependent on the use of lamps to light their houses at night. Faryab Governor’s spokesman, Ahamd Jawed Bidar, told reporters that 11 electricity centers have been established in the district of Shirin Tagab, and with these new centers, 90 percent of the people in the area now have electricity.

    Meanwhile in Afghanistan’s central province of Uruzgan, Afghan and foreign officials inaugurated a brand new primary school this week. The new school has 35 classrooms, 18 bathrooms, a storage room as well as administrative rooms. Funding was provided by the Australian government. The cost of the project was 1.8 million dollars.
     
  4. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    New School Building And Masjid Inaugurated In Balkh Province


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    Afghan and foreign officials inaugurate the new building of the Ali Chapan School.

    Last week, On May 4th, Afghan officials, led by Balkh Governor, Atta Mohammad, and officials from NATO inaugurated a new school building for the Ali Chapan School in Mazar-e-Sharif.

    The new school building has enough classrooms to meet the educational needs of 1,340 pupils. According to a NATO press release, “the building cost €80,000 and was funded by the Lachen Helfen e.V.’ and Bundeswehr hilft Kindern in der dritten Welt e.V.’ organizations.”

    Two days later, Afghan officials, once again led by Balkh Governor, Atta Mohammad, and officials from NATO inaugurated a new Masjid (Mosque) at Camp Marmal, in Mazar-e-Sharif.

    Muslim soldiers, civilian employees of Regional Command-North, as well as the many Afghan workers at the camp will now have a masjid to go to in order to pray. The masjid took 6 months to complete at a cost of €50,000.
     
  5. ajtr

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    Four Afghans win gold in the Asian Powerlifting Championships


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    On Saturday, May 8th, Pajhwok Afghan News reported that four Afghan weightlifters competing in the recently held seven-day Asian Powerlifting Championships have won gold medals. Moreover, Ali Raza Rafezada, a 28 year old from Herat province, won the gold in the 270kg category, thus becoming Asia’s “number one weightlifter”. The second place went to Iran and third to Mongolia. The other Afghans who won gold were Jamil Arab, Ali Ahmad Shahabi and Muhammad Nadar Mujaddidi.The competition was held in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, and representatives from 46 countries participated in the event. On May 8th, the head of National Olympic Committee, Mohammad Zahir Akhtar, attended a gathering held in order to honor the accomplishments of the Afghan weightlifters.
     
  6. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Railway Development A Key To Afghanistan’s Economic Development

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    A robust railway system will improve Afghanistan's economy

    In order for Afghanistan to be able to increase the shipments of fuels, foods, construction material and various goods, it needs to have an extensive railway system.

    A railway system will reduce Afghanistan’s isolation, as well as decrease Afghanistan’s dependence on Pakistan in order to get goods in and out of the country. Moving goods through the Pakistani border right now is risky and dangerous.

    The good news is that workers are already laying tracks across northern Afghanistan’s rolling grassland. The project is being funded by the Manila-based Asian Development Bank. This railway line will not only help to develop the north, it will also further link Afghanistan, Central Asia and Iran. Cities in the north like Mazar-e-Sharif can become major Afghan transport hubs. There is a lot of gas, oil and coal in northern Afghanistan, and a robust railway system can help move this material to be exported and bring in millions if not billions in revenues one day.

    Just last week, Afghanistan’s Finance Minister, Omar Zakhilwal, announced that the Japanese government has promised $1 billion to further develop Afghanistan’s railway system. The plan is to build a railway line from Balkh in the north to Herat province in the west.
     
  7. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Medical facilities re-open in Herat


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    Herat, Afghanistan
    A ceremony was held in Afghanistan’s western province of Herat yesterday to officially re-open and celebrate the completion of refurbishment activities on two medical facilities – a pediatric and a regional hospital.

    Structural repairs were done on the regional hospital, and new medical equipment were installed in the first aid, radiology, laboratory analysis, and operating rooms. A new electrical system was also installed in the hospital. More than one million euros was spent on the pediatric hospital in order to bring it to near new status. Major renovations were made, and training for the medical and paramedical personnel was also provided. The pediatric hospital has 100 beds.

    Together, the two hospitals provide medical care to more than 1 million people in Herat.
     
  8. ajtr

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    New Girls’ High School To Be Built In Kabul

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    Students participate in the Sİr Asiab Girls High School’s ground-breaking ceremony held in Police District-6 in Kabul, May 3.

    Afghan and foreign officials attended a brick laying ceremony earlier this week to mark the construction of a new High School for girls in Kabul. The school is called Sir Asiab Girls’ High School and will accomodate approximately 3500 students. The school will have 20 classrooms, and construction is expected to be completed by the end of this year. This school construction project will cost $305,000, and it will be built by the American-led Kabul Task Force.
     
  9. ajtr

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    Jobs to be created in Zabul, dam construction starts, and development projects completed in Samangan

    In Zabul province, two municipal landfills are being developed. The first one is in Qalat City, and the other is in Shajoy. This project will employ about 1,100 Afghans for the next three months. Improvement projects along the main bazaar road in Shajoy will employ another 400 workers. Over $1 million dollars is budgeted for this project and 95% of the total project cost will go to the Afghan laborers in the form of paychecks.

    Last Sunday, an official from Afghanistan’s Ministry of Water and Energy said that construction work on 4 major mega water dams to meet irrigation, water, and electricity needs would be launched in three months. One dam will be in northern Faryab, another in southeastern Paktia, another in Kabul, and finally one in Herat province. Funding for the projects, which will be $220 million, will come from the central government. It is estimated that the work will take 3 years to complete. There are also plans to build an additional 3 dams.

    Also, this week, an official from the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, said that 14 development projects have been completed in Afghanistan’s northern province of Samangan. For example, 5 water supply schemes, and a construction of a community center has been completed. Also, an 89-kilometre retaining wall was built, a 1.8 kilometer road was graveled, and literacy and tailoring courses for women were provided. Khairullah Anosh, the governor of the province said that there are 135 more projects underway
     
  10. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    School building construction completes in Nangarhar and another starts in Ghazni

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    Nangarhar and Ghazni
    In the Trili village of Chaprihar district of Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province, the construction of a 30-room school building has been completed. Over 3,500 students will benefit from the school. As this construction comes to an end, a new school building project has been launched in southern Ghazni province. Construction on two other school building are already in process in the same province. The new school will have 14 classrooms, and will be called Wakeel Muhammad Jan Khan High School. It will be mostly used to meet the educational needs of nomadic children. Overall, There are 52 schools in Ghazni province.
     
  11. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Afghan Airline Industry Continues To Grow – Safi Airways Plans To Expand Fleet

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    Safi Airplane
    Afghanistan’s second biggest airlines, Safi Airways, announced today at the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) (currently taking place in Dubai) that it is planning on purchasing one Airbus A320 and leasing another this year. The goal is to expand its fleet up to nine aircrafts by the year 2014.

    The Executive Vice Chairman of the company said at the ATM that, “Passengers will be thrilled by the brand new interior, and the business class seats on these aircraft will be outstanding”. A new logo and corporate identity was also announced. The airline decided to keep the Dari language as part of its logo to show pride of its Afghan heritage.

    Company officials also told reporters that it has signed agreements with other airlines such as Lufthansa, United Airlines and the Dubai-based Emirates to use Safi Airways planes on some flights.

    Finally, the company announced that it is committed to international safety standards, and that they are preparing for a complete IOSA (IATA Operational Safety Audit) audit which will be completed this Fall.
     
  12. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Pay By Cell Phone Program Implemented To Reduce Corruption In Afghanistan

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    An Afghan National Police officer demonstrates the proper procedure for sending messages via cell phone text messaging to inform an Afghan Policeman that his monthly salary is ready. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Jeff Nevison, U.S, Air Force)
    Currently, it is difficult for an Afghan National Police officer working in a remote or high risk part of Afghanistan to receive his or her paycheck. The payment process is very manual and this has led to corruption where police pay is being lost.

    To help resolve this issue, the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Finance, working together with NATO have implemented a new pay by cell phone program in which police officers will get paid electronically. According to a press released issue by NATO today, “under the program, police register to become mobile money customers – a service similar to Western Union – offered by an Afghan cell phone company. Their payroll is electronically transferred to a commercial bank account, and once uploaded; the customer receives an automated text notification on their cell phone. From there the police member can either withdraw their pay at a local authorized mobile money agent using their unique PIN, or transfer the money to a family member’s phone. They can also buy airtime for their phones or pay bills electronically.”

    The press release further stated that “after a nine month trial period, where 53 ANP [Afghan National Police] were successfully paid at the beginning of the monthly pay period, MoI [Ministry of Interior] is expanding the program to three additional districts in Wardak and Khost provinces. May was the first month for the new police officers to receive their paycheck electronically; with their addition to the program, a total of 204 police are being paid via their cell phones.”

    This program is really good news for police officers serving in places with no banking facilities, and it minimizes corruption. The government hopes to roll this program out to other districts and perhaps all over in Afghanistan.
     
  13. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Afghanistan defeats Ireland in T20 World Cup warm-up
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    Dawlat Ahmadzai
    When the Afghan cricket team’s coach (Kabir Khan) was asked by a reporter recently about his team’s upcoming match with India in the ICC World Twenty20 on May 1st, he said: “We are excited about facing India. We have been working hard and we want to give them a big fight. We will make it hard for them and hope to make an upset. We are not just going there just to participate.”

    The team gave the world a little taste of that hunger for making an upset by defeating Ireland today in the T20 World Cup warm-up game. Afghanistan 134 for 5 (Stanikzai 39) beat Ireland 133 for 9 (D Ahmadzai 4-15) by five wickets. Three players from the team deserve a special “shout out” for their outstanding performance today. The first “shout out” goes to Dawlat Ahmadzai, who claimed 4 for 15, and then to Ashghar Stanikzai and Mohammad Nabi, who added 66 runs for the fifth wicket in six overs to seal the win and give Ireland the loss.
     
  14. ajtr

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    India to fund construction of new schools in Kunar

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    Kunar Province
    On Sunday, Pajhwok Afghan News reported that India, who has already contributed millions to the reconstruction of Afghanistan, will fund the building of 13 new schools in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Kunar.

    According to the report, the new schools will be in the districts of Shigal, Sawkai, Narang, Dangam, Sarkani, Marawara, Khas Kunar and in the provincial capital, Asadabad.

    Each school will have anywhere from 12 to 14 classrooms, and will be constructed over the next 9 months. The Indian government has already approved 11 of the new schools, and construction work has already begun on some of the buildings.
     
  15. ajtr

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    New Mental Health Center Inaugurated

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    Dr. Suraya Dalil
    Last week, Afghanistan’s Acting Minister of Public Health, Dr. Suraya Dalil, inaugurated a much needed Mental Health Center in Afghanistan’s western province of Herat. Officials from the Ministry of Public Health, as well as local officials were present in the opening ceremony. Funding for the two story building was provided by the Japanese government with total cost of $200,000. In a press release, an official from the the Ministry of Public Health wrote that, “this center is not only designed to provide mental health services for patients, but also to serve as an academic institution for training medical doctors, nurses and students as well as interns.”
     
  16. ajtr

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    Repaired Middle and High Schools Inaugurated in Balkh, & New School Building Is Inaugurated in Zabul

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    Balkh and Zabul Provinces, Afghanistan
    On Thursday, April 22, 2010, Moqsadullah Shaheed High School in Mazar-i-Sharif was re-opened after a year long construction project was completed at a cost of $240,000. Afghan government officials, as well as teachers and students participated in the re-opening ceremony. The school now has 16 classrooms, 4 administrative rooms, a main conference room, and 5 bathrooms.

    Two days later, on April 24, 2010, Afghan official re-opened a middle school name after the famous Afghan poet, Khuja Abdullah Ansari. This school is also in Mazar-i-Sharif, and was originally built 16 years ago. However, the school was badly damaged through the years. Now, a second story has been added to the building, and the school now has 11 classrooms, a library, and a computer room with 15 desks. The school was repaired at a cost of $87,000 and it took one year to complete the project.

    Funding for both the Middle and High School was provided by the German government.

    Also, on the 24th, in Zabul province, Afghan and foreign officials opened a brand new school building. The school, called Sheikh Mati Primary School, has dozens of classrooms, and a 330 meter surrounding wall. It took 6 months to complete construction on the school, at a cost of $164,000. Education officials stated that previously, the students in the area had to study under tents or outside. Now they are happy that they have a brand new school building to study in, and school can be conducted even when the weather is bad.
     
  17. ajtr

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    Champion Afghan Karate Team Greeted by Fans In Kabul

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    Afghanistan’s National Karate Taekwondo team arrived home today from Iran where they had participated in the the 2010 Jam-i-Fajr International Karate Tournament. The team was welcomed at Kabul Airport by numerous adoring fans. The team did very well in the competition. Overall, they won 8 medals – four gold (Mustafa Nazari, Tariq Faiz, Naved Omari & Roman Abbasi), one silver (Abdullah Farid), and 3 bronze (Yama Bahavi, Naved Dastagul & Alim Mehran). Combat sports like Taekwondo are very popular amongst both men and women in Afghanistan. Afghans have done very well in international competitions. In February, Afghan kick boxers came home with 7 medals from the Asian Open Kickboxing Championships, and in the 2010 South Asian Games, out of the 32 medals the Afghans won, 29 were in combat sports (Taekwondo, Wushu, Wrestling, Boxing, and Judo).
     
  18. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS!!!


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    Man of the Match - Raees Ahmadzai

    Afghanistan defeated Nepal today in the final of the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) Trophy Elite 2010 by 95 runs at Hubara Ground in Kuwait to become the ACC Champions and win their first ACC Trophy.

    The Man of the Match Award went to Raees Ahmadzai. Ahmadzai said that during lunch, their coach Kabir Khan stood over them and told them not too eat too much, so that they will have the hunger for victory, for glory, for proof of their excellence.

    Both teams were very evenly matched, but Afghanistan’s bowlers and fielders really pushed themselves in order to ensure victory for Afghanistan. There were more than 4000 people in attendance watching the final match between Nepal and Afghanistan.

    Now it’s the ICC World Twenty20 for the Afghan team – just three and a half weeks from now.

    Summary and players of both teams:

    Nepal have won the toss and elected to field
    Afghanistan: 224 all out 50 overs (K.Sadiq 58, R.Ahmadzai 52, M.Nabi 48; B.Das 3-35) / Nepal: 129 all out off 40 overs (G.Malla 30, S.Vesawkar 35)

    Afghanistan: Nowroz Mangal (Captain), Karim Sadiq, Raees Ahmadzai, Hamid Hassan, Asghar Stanekzai, Mohammad Shahzad, Mohammad Nabi, Noor Ali Noori, Mirwais Ashraf, Shahpoor Zadran, Samiullah Shinwari, 12th Man Shabbir Noori

    Nepal: Paras Khadka (Captain), Mahesh Chettri, Anil Mandal, Shakti Gauchan, Gyanendra Malla, Sharad Vesawkar, Basant Regmi, Dipendra Chaudhary, Binod Das, Sanjam Regmi, Rshul Vishwakarma, 12th Man Amrit Bhattarai
     
  19. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Afghan cricket team gets another win – Hong Kong no match for the Afghans!

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    Man of the Match - Mohammad Nabi
    Today at the 2010 Asian Cricket Council (ACC) Trophy Elite Semi-Finals, Afghanistan beat Hong Kong by five wickets. The Hong Kong team were the defending ACC Trophy Elite Champions. Commentators noted that the Afghan team bowled and batted very well today, and there were many Afghan fans in the stands to cheer them on. The Man of the Match Award went to Mohammad Nabi for his outstanding performance in the game.

    Hong Kong won the toss and chose to bat.

    Hong Kong: 205 all out off 48.1 overs (H.Butt 63; M.Nabi 3-30, H.Hassan 3-53) / Afghanistan: 210 for 5 off 44.4 overs (M.Shahzad 35, A.Stanikzai 55, R.Ahmadzai 38, M.Nabi 35)

    Afghanistan will next play against Nepal for the ACC Trophy Elite Final.
     
  20. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Afghan kickboxers win 7 medals!

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    Kickboxing
    Early this week, Afghan kickboxers were honored for winning medals in the Asian Open Kickboxing Championship which was held from February 18-21 at the Balewadi Sports Complex in India. Overall, the Afghan kickboxers won 7 medals – 5 gold, 1 silver and 1 bronze. Close to 500 fighters participating in the event. Muhammad Zahir Ahghbar, the head of Afghanistan’s National Olympic Committee, told reporters that the government has promised to reward the winners with money – 100,000 afghanis for gold medal winners, 80,000 to for silver medal winners and 50,000 for the bronze medal winners. Contact sports such as boxing and martial arts are very popular in Afghanistan and Afghan athletes have done very well in international competitions.

    Check out the video below showing the highlights from the competition:

     
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  21. ajtr

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    Afghanistan’s Ministry of Higher Education Takes Over Responsibility Of The National Women’s Dormitory in Kabul

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    Acting Minister of Higher Education, Sarwar Danish
    Yesterday, the National Women’s Dormitory was handed over from international donors to the Ministry of Higher Education during a ceremony at Kabul University. Acting Minister of Higher Education, Sarwar Danish, and other important Afghan and foreign officials were present at the ceremony.

    The Americans had built the dormitory originally in the 1970s, but years of war had caused much damage to it. The U.S. government funded the renovation of the dormitory, and the Asia Foundation took over the management and maintenance of the dormitory in December 2008. The renovations were finally completed in March 2009.

    Today, the dormitory provides living space for 1,100 women attending university courses in Kabul. Yesterday’s ceremony marked the official transfer of the management, maintenance and operational costs of the women’s dormitory to the Ministry of Higher Education. This is a step further in the Afghan government being much more self-sufficient and less dependent on foreign organizations.
     

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