Drop and Ride has to adapt the sports and educational program in Kabul to the restrictions caused by the novel coronavirus. This is a difficult task, as the project environment in the crises-afflicted city of Kabul poses many daily challenges even prior to the pandemic. Despite the circumstances, new concepts were developed to provide sports in smaller groups and educational offers via the internet. As in Afghanistan less than 10% of households have internet access and the internet connection is often very weak, alternatives to the nowadays globally established educational format of video conferences were necessary.
Due to the current coronavirus pandemic, Drop and Ride had to suspend all sports and educational activities since March. A strict lockdown was imposed to contain the spread of the virus throughout Afghanistan and in the capital Kabul. In addition to the continuing threat of terrorist attacks, the everyday life of many families is now dominated by health risks and often loss of income.
The program for 2020 was adapted to the coronavirus pandemic
For Drop and Ride, 2020 had a good start – for the first time, the project financed a complete annual program! The cold start of the year was used for detailed planning of the implementation of all activities during the entire year. However, in March 2020 these plans were disrupted by the coronavirus and all activities had to be suspended. As the scale of this pandemic became visible, Drop and Ride worked closely with Abasha to find ways to adapt the activity program in Kabul to the new situation. Even the planning process for online activities proved to be difficult – the Internet connection in Kabul kept disconnecting, especially during video conferences with the Abasha team. Despite the difficulties, we closely cooperated to develop the necessary adaptation of the program for 2020.
After a slight ease of the lockdown, Drop and Ride’s sports activities can for the moment not take place indoors, but instead bicycle tours are offered in small groups on the streets of Kabul. This way, the streets of Kabul can be explored using face masks and the necessary distance, as the Kabul’s streets are currently empty due to many roadblocks and restrictions on motorized traffic. Larger events like the scheduled summer festival with sports and culture are unfortunately not possible in the foreseeable future. Instead, sports activities in small groups will be the main focus in 2020.
A new, digital educational program was established
The educational offers are also facing uncertain times. For instance, schools and universities in Afghanistan are closed until at least September. The government is attempting to offer some alternative educational opportunities through the Internet, radio and television. Since less than 10% of households in Afghanistan have access to the Internet and the Internet connection is often extremely unstable, alternatives to the nowadays globally established educational format of video conferences were necessary.
The Peace and Freestyle Organisation (PFO), which implements the Drop and Ride Program, developed an adapted concept that enables young people from Kabul to attend online classes. All members of Drop and Ride are provided with a mobile data package of 3 GB per month for educational purposes to enable online exchange. Since video conferences are not possible due to the weak Internet connection and many Drop and Ride members do not have access to a computer, the format of the online courses was optimized for the smartphone and organized via chat groups in popular messaging apps. The teacher regularly provides materials such as texts, homework and recorded educational videos within the chat. For all materials, especially video files, the file size is optimized for use on the smartphone.
Learning English with you smartphone – thanks to coronavirus
Drop and Ride’s first online educational offer are English classes for beginners and advanced learners. The courses are led by a professional English teacher who provides recorded video presentations, reading texts and homework every day. Written homework is individually corrected, while pronunciation is practised through voice messages and phone calls.
This video gives a short insight into the implementation of the first course. Online courses are also planned on topics such as female role models in sports, bicycle repair, computer skills, as well as photo and video editing on the smartphone.
What about the financial means for 2020?
Funds originally intended for larger events in 2020 are now applied to expand the increasingly important online presence of the Drop and Ride Program and the PFO. In this way, topics such as human rights or the equality of men and women will be addressed in professional social media campaigns. In addition, an independent website will be created to enable the project to present itself more attractively online and to facilitate direct donations to Afghanistan.
The current circumstances present challenges to the whole world. The PFO is committed to maintaining the educational and sports program with all available resources, even in these times. More than ever before, Abasha considers itself to be a solid partner for the local project, providing stability and partnership assistance.
Abasha aims to help young sports and education initiatives to get up and running in particularly difficult environments. In the future, we will support further initiatives to establish stable and independent project structures. For this we need your help! Especially in these times, the model of supporting memberships has proven itself as a crisis-resistant project funding. With just 2 Euro per month, you can join Abasha as a supporting member and thus help young sports and educational projects all over the world.