How it all began…
The origin of Abasha is based on the first cooperation with the Drop and Ride project in Kabul, Afghanistan. At the end of 2016, young people from Kabul had just founded the association on their own initiative. Since then, Drop and Ride has offered regular bicycle training for boys and girls. In addition to the sports program, an accompanying educational program with weekly courses is currently being developed. This is a special offer for a crisis-ridden city like Kabul. Here we want to give an insight into the development of the Drop and Ride project.
In the beginning Drop and Ride had neither suitable equipment nor training ground.
The bikes, which the young people used in the beginning, were provided by the members themselves, often simple old street bikes. Due to the sportive use of the bicycles, they needed repairs on a daily bases. Additionally, there was a general lack of protective equipment, which the members needed and desired. Attending the program without helmet, safety equipment and suitable shoes increases the risk of injuries. Some of the trainings took place in public places, which is particularly risky in Afghanistan due to safety concerns and the participation of girls in the sports program.
In the meantime, the possibility of subletting has arisen at a football club.
This means that a closed area can be used for training purposes for a limited period of time. In the socially tense society of Afghanistan, this is an important prerequisite for the feeling of security during the training sessions.
Drop and Ride established a new sport for boys and girls in Kabul.
This is due to a great team spirit and the young people holding together in difficult situations. The strong support of worldwide followers on the initiative’s Facebook page also contributed to this. On Facebook, however, many Afghans also cheer the courageous and hands-on nature of the club with its open communication.
The contact to Drop and Ride was established via social media.
Soon some supporters from the European area came together who wanted to help Drop and Ride. Through digital communication and the existing English skills of the initiators of Drop and Ride, Asghar Mehrzada and Zahra Faizi, a partnership could develop despite the great distance. First, they discussed goals and needs of the project and recorded them in a project concept, which they used locally as well as in Europe to recruit supporters. Now, a network formed in Europe which supported a donation delivery of the urgently needed equipment.
Companies and private donors supported the project with generous donations to send a container full of equipment to Kabul.
This was the only way to achieve a complete supply with extremely high-quality sports equipment. Due to the increase in the volume of donations, we were very pleased with the donation of a shipping container, which was ideally suited for safe transport and storage of the new equipment on site. In addition, Engagement Global and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation made the transport of the donations from Bremen to Kabul possible thanks to a major transport cost subsidy. A successful crowd funding campaign including private donations of more than 5000 Euro completed the financing. In this way, the costs of equipment and the transport could be covered.
The foundation of an NGO was necessary for the successful transport of the cargo to Kabul.
Transport seemed to be possible in late 2017. The container was already waiting for collection in Bremen when more and more difficulties arose regarding the duty-free import of the donation delivery to Afghanistan. The best and unfortunately most time-consuming solution was the foundation of a non-governmental organization (NGO) in Afghanistan, which would be responsible for the import and for future sports programs. Through the NGO we hope to gain new opportunities and eligibility for the Drop and Ride project in the long run. The heads behind Drop and Ride tackled this difficult task and after many months of bureaucracy, all papers were confirmed.
In mid-2018 the Peace and Freestyle Organization (PFO) was officially registered as a NGO in Afghanistan!
The transport of the high-quality equipment from Bremen to Kabul took 6 weeks.
Now everything was prepared for the duty-free import of the donation delivery to Afghanistan. In November 2018, the container loaded with high-quality bicycles, protective equipment, tools and ramps made its long journey from Bremen to Kabul. Only the high value of the professional sports equipment and the very limited availability of these items in Afghanistan made the expensive transport worthwhile. Most of the 6000 kilometers trip was done by train. This route was regarded as the safest transport route to Kabul and took more than six weeks.
The container arrived in Afghanistan in December 2018.
After the long journey and the successful duty-free import, the donation container arrived at its destination in Kabul. This was a relieving moment for everyone involved in Afghanistan and Europe, as all project partners invested a lot of work in this transport. During the transport, the container was completely packed with donations. After the ramps were assembled and the equipment was unpacked, the container will serve as a safe storage area for Drop and Ride in the future.
The donation delivery opened Drop and Ride the door to a professional sports offer as a bicycle club.
High-quality and durable bicycles, extensive protective equipment and custom-made ramps will help the club’s sports program to a new level of quality in the 2019 season. All the equipment is available in large quantities, with suitable tools and spare parts, ensuring long-term operation of the equipment.
We are very grateful for all our supporters.
This project could never have been realized without the joint support of state institutions, associations, numerous companies and private individuals. We hope to be able to continue to use this network for good purposes in the future and, among other things, to support Drop and Ride permanently. But also the support of other young initiatives from difficult circumstances is planned in the long run. This was one of the main reasons for the foundation of the Abasha association.
Abasha will accompany Drop and Ride on new challenges.
Drop and Ride will also face great challenges in the future: In addition to the sports program, an accompanying educational program will also be offered in the future. Here, weekly English lessons will be the starting point. In the long term, courses in computer skills are also planned. For the time being, we can finance this from other donations for container transport. In the long term, however, we will have to find ways to continue offering this service to young people free of charge. Here, we as Abasha see a chance to contribute to a real improvement with little financial input on site.
Drop and Ride needs a new, safe training area in the near future.
Although Drop and Ride is now very well equipped in terms of sports equipment, there is a lot of uncertainty regarding the current training area. The use of the current premises is limited in time, as the football club, which is currently offering Drop and Ride accommodation for rent, is planning to expand the premises. Therefore Drop and Ride is facing the difficult task to find a new training ground in time. That must offer a closed and safe environment, in order to make a fear-free training possible for girls, too. In addition, the area of the new site must be chosen carefully, as a safe operation of the club is only possible with the acceptance of this offer in the neighborhood. These conditions in combination with the difficult financial situation of the club represent large and difficult tasks for the project. But also with these challenges we want to support the Drop and Ride project as the association Abasha.
We want the Drop and Ride offer to have a long-term and stable perspective.
If this succeeds, real improvements of the leisure offer and perhaps even ways out of the hopelessness for many young people in Kabul can be achieved on a small scale.