Help Save the Afghan-Canadian Community Center

Update: CIDA approved renewed funding for the ACCC on International Women’s Day 2011. Our deepest thanks go to all of you who took the time to write your Members of Parliament – we couldn’t have done it without you!

As recently noted in the Toronto Star, Government of Canada funding for the Afghan-Canadian Community Center (ACCC) is set to end on February 28th, 2011. Without renewed support, the ACCC will need to take urgent steps to cut costs: we will need to lay off teachers and close classes, closing the door on higher education for many brave Afghan women.

A cut-back of the ACCC would be a huge loss to the women of Kandahar, the nation of Afghanistan and the Canadian taxpayer. Dollar for dollar, the Canadian International Development Agency’s (CIDA’s) investment in the ACCC has been one of the most cost-effective development projects in Kandahar province. As a result of Government of Canada support, the ACCC has more  than 2,000 students and graduates and more than 4,000 total beneficiaries.

With a further investment of $650,000 and a new facility, we can bring the ACCC to the point of self-sustainability. This investment will bring long-term hope and opportunity for the women of Kandahar, who struggle against incredible odds to build a better life for themselves and their families. The ACCC is a vital part of Canada’s legacy in Kandahar, where Canadians have sacrificed have so much for the sake of peace, stability and human rights.

To help, please write your Member of Parliament (MP) and express your support for the Afghan-Canadian Community Center. Tell them that you care about the women of Kandahar, and that you want the Government of Canada to support this incredible success story. For your convenience, we have included a sample letter below.

To find your MP’s e-mail address, please click here. Please also CC Minister Oda’s office at [email protected].

Subject: CIDA Support for the Afghan-Canadian Community Center

Dear (Name of your Member of Parliament):

I recently learned that the Afghan-Canadian Community Center (ACCC) may close due to a lack of funding. I wish to express my support for the work done by the ACCC and respectfully ask that you do all you can to ensure that the ACCC’s current business plan receives support from the Canadian International Development Agency. The current CIDA grant for the ACCC is set to end on February 28th, 2011 and, if new funding is not approved soon, the Center will need to take immediate measures to lower costs, including laying off teachers and closing classes.

The ACCC has proven itself to be one of the most successful development projects in Kandahar province, with more than 2,000 students and graduates and more than 4,000 total beneficiaries. Not only do employed ACCC graduates support an average of 6 family members, many work with firms which play key roles in the reconstruction of Afghanistan. The ACCC is also a leading provider of women’s education in Kandahar, and more than half of its students are women.

The Afghan-Canadian Community Center is supported by the Canadian International Learning Foundation (CanILF), a team of volunteers in Canada and around the world that fund the school’s activities and help people from around the world to learn about the challenges faced by Afghan women and volunteer in support of education in Afghanistan. This grant would also help them to continue and expand their volunteer efforts, and teach valuable professional skills to a new generation of Canadian volunteers.

While the ACCC has made significant steps toward self-sufficiency since the institution was established in early 2007, it needs more help to ensure the Center can continue its valuable work. If the Government of Canada can help obtain a permanent building for the ACCC, the entire program will cost less than $650,000 over three years, a tiny fraction of what is being spent on military efforts in Afghanistan. This is a small price to pay to ensure a lasting legacy for Canadian sacrifices in Kandahar.

As a concerned constituent, I urge you to contact Minister Oda’s Office and CIDA’s Afghan Task Force to express your support for the Afghan-Canadian Community Center.

For further information, please visit CanILF’s Afghan School Project at www.theafghanschool.org or contact President Ryan Aldred at [email protected]

Sincerely,

(Please include your full name and address in any correspondence with your Member of Parliament.)

En Francais:

Cher/Chêre hon. (Député),

J’ai appris dans les derniers jours que le Centre communautaire afghan-canadien (ACCC) pourrait être obligé à mettre fin à son programme par manque de fonds. J’aimerais exprimer mon appui au travail de l’ACCC en vous demandant respectueusement de faire ce que vous pouvez pour assurer que le nouvel plan d’affaires soumis par l’ACCC reçoit l’approbation de l’Association canadienne de développement international (ACDI). La subvention courante de l’ACDI  pour l’ACCC prend fin le 28 février 2011 et, si une nouvelle subvention n’est pas approuvée bientôt, le Centre sera obligé de réduire ses dépenses par diverses mesures, notamment par mettre à pieds des professeurs et par fermer des classes.

L’ACCC s’est rélévé être un des meilleurs projets de développement dans la province de Kandahar, avec plus de 2 000 étudiants et diplômés, la plupart d’entre eux étant des femmes, et plus de 4 000 bénéficiaires. Les diplômés qui trouvent des emplois supportent en moyenne des familles de six personnes, et un grand nombre d’entre eux travaillent pour des organisations qui aident à la reconstruction d’Afghanistan, comme par exemple le Programme alimentaire mondial. Le travail indispensable réalisé par l’ACCC a contribué à l’amélioration la réputation de notre pays au sein de la communauté internationale et le Centre est devenu le sujet de rapports par Al-Jazeera, la NPR et The Times (Royaume-Uni).

Depuis son établissement en 2007, le Centre a avancé vers l’autosuffisance financière mais l’organisation a néanmoins encore besoin d’aide pour assurer sa contribution continue en Afghanistan. Si le gouvernement du Canada pourrait aider l’organisation à obtenir un édifice permanent, le coût du programme entier serait inférieur à 650 000 $ pendant les trois prochaines années, ce qui serait un prix très abordable pour assurer un héritage durable pour les Canadiens après nos sacrifices en Kandahar.

En tant que citoyen inquiet, je vous encourage à communiquer avec le bureau de la ministère Oda et l’ACDI pour exprimer votre support pour l’ACCC.

Pour de plus amples renseignements, veuillez consulter le site web du projet : www.theafghanschool.org ou encore contacter le président de CanILF, Ryan Aldred: [email protected]

Veuillez agréer, Madame/Monsieur, l’expression de mes sincères salutations,

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