Listen: Tearfund Australia CEO Matthew Maury chatted to Hope Drive's Laura Bennett
Not long ago, while driving in Melbourne, Tearfund Australia CEO Matthew Maury saw a bumper sticker that read, “Afghanistan is a country, not a war”.
“It was interesting to me, because so much of our news cycle, and how we’ve thought about Afghanistan since 9/11, is about this war that we’re involved with,” he told Hope 103.2.
“We lose sight of the fact that it’s actually a nation full of people like us, who want their kids to be in school, who want peace, stability and security.”
And those people now desperately need help.
As Afghanistan moves into a new era under the regime of the Taliban, Tearfund has launched an emergency appeal.
The Christian charity has been working on the ground of the war-torn country for the last 40 years, providing aid and support for those affected by Afghanistan’s civil war and other crises.
Tearfund is continuing its humanitarian aid in the wake of the Taliban seizing power last month.
“Our priority as an organisation is to be in the places where the needs are greatest,” Mr Maury, who hails from Seattle, said.
“So Tearfund finds itself in places like Afghanistan, Somalia and Sudan – pretty challenging places in terms of unrest and great need.
“Over the last 40 years we’ve been involved in a range of development projects, everything from health to education.”
“Our priority as an organisation is to be in the places where the needs are greatest,” – Tearfund Australia CEO Matthew Maury
“Dying from starvation”
Not only have the Afghan people suffered under the conflict in the region, but they are also enduring chronic drought, food shortage and poverty.
“On top of that, COVID-19 is a huge challenge for a country with limited health systems and no social safety nets,” Mr Maury said.
“But the biggest challenge right now is access to food.”
Indeed, Tearfund reports that of Afghanistan’s population of 37 million, half of those people require urgent humanitarian assistance, most of whom are women and children.
More than three million Afghan children are suffering from malnutrition, Tearfund reported.
“So that really is the immediate challenge for the country,” Mr Maury said.
“We need to respond to the crisis at hand, which is just making sure that people aren’t dying from starvation.”
Hope for the future
In the past, Tearfund has assisted the Afghan people with maternal and mental health care, education, improvements to hygiene and sanitation, and aid to provide food.
“Over the past two weeks, Tearfund staff have been working with our local partners to ensure the safety and security of the local staff, and this work remains ongoing,” Mr Maury said.
“At the same time, we are preparing for the uncertainty and challenges that lie ahead. The needs are immense, as are the opportunities to work for a future with peace and stability. It is upon this hope that we all persevere.”
“The needs are immense, as are the opportunities to work for a future with peace and stability. It is upon this hope that we all persevere,” – Tearfund Australia CEO Matthew Maury
Mr Maury is hopeful that Tearfund’s appeal will be able to provide some relief to those suffering.
“We’re asking people to donate,” Mr Maury said. “And the other big request that we have is that people pray. To be generous, but also to be actively engaging in prayer.”
For more information and to support the work of Tearfund, visit their website.
Feature image: Tearfund Australia Facebook