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Investing in Afghanistan’s future

By: Ida-Marie Furino
January 12, 2018

“It’s education, not guns, that transforms a society” - Dr. Sakena Yacoobi

The School of Leadership Afghanistan (SOLA) is a non-profit private boarding school for young girls which aims to provide a rigorous education that promotes critical thinking, a sense of purpose, and respect for self and others.

Dr. Yacoobi has spent decades trying to change the education landscape in Afghanistan, first by creating underground schools for girls and then founding the Afghan Institute of Learning in 1995. Since the fall of the Taliban, many Afghan women have been leading a revolution to transform society through education. One of these women, Shabana Basij-Rasikh, a former clandestine student of Dr. Yacoobi, is now the co-founder of SOLA.

As the first of its kind in Afghanistan, SOLA seeks to represent all major ethnic groups and provinces by providing college preparatory courses for students aged 11 to 19.

Given that SOLA challenges some of the age-old beliefs of Afghan society, security was required. SOLA, despite limited funds, approached GardaWorld in Afghanistan to help enhance the school’s overall infrastructure and implement security procedures. Acknowledging the importance of this worthy project, GardaWorld offered to invest time and expertise to help initiate the project:

Providing a detailed Site Security Vulnerability Survey.
GardaWorld’s Risk Analysis Manager conducted a survey of the SOLA complex, highlighting shortcomings and weaknesses in the infrastructure and procedures, as well as suggesting measures to help mitigate risks.

Involving a building contractor to make alterations to enhance security. 
A third party construction provider was tasked by GardaWorld to assess infrastructure shortcomings and the work and costs required to protect the SOLA complex.

Delivering a two-day situational Awareness & Basic Life Support package.
Mick Else, GardaWorld Training Manager, Operations, delivered classroom and practical training to staff and students at SOLA – consisting of basic procedures and actions in the event of an emergency. Mick also instructed basic first aid actions. Sadly, Mick Else passed away late last year.

Introducing security procedures throughout the property to instil confidence.
Mick investigated the standard operating procedures at SOLA, which were found to be deficient. He provided basic written documentation and training to guards (search process, security routine etc.).

Introducing SOLA to other organizations for possible assistance.
GardaWorld’s Government Liaison introduced SOLA to local government agencies in the vicinity who would assist them in an emergency.

Today, SOLA is still in operation, and the infrastructure and procedures have been upgraded in line with the recommendations provided by GardaWorld. 

Our contribution to the SOLA project is exactly why we focus on building a culture of local engagement in the countries in which we operate by actively supporting initiatives and projects that promote the health, education and well-being of individuals in these communities.

Photo credit: http://www.sola-afghanistan.org/