Building a future of hope for Afghanistan

Hannah Caldwell, CAFOD’s legacy officer, reflects on how gifts in wills help communities look to the future with hope.

A women's savings group in Lal district.
A women’s savings group in Lal district.

The Oxford dictionary defines the word “legacy” as: “Something left or handed down by a predecessor.”

Working for CAFOD’s legacy team, I always think of a legacy in hugely positive terms. To me, it means a gift, carefully and faithfully given, to help continue the values of love and hope that a person held dear during their lifetime. It’s a gift that will reach out and help build a brighter future for generations to come.

Find out more about leaving a gift in your will

But perhaps I’m biased. For many, the word conjures up a gloomier image. It can, for example, be used to describe the long lasting, deep reaching effects of war or injustice.

Afghanistan’s legacy

When we think of Afghanistan, many of us might associate it with this kind of legacy. We have a certain perception of the country, moulded by the headlines. We’re sadly used to news stories of bombings, poverty and oppression.

Undeniably, this is indeed a reality for many. Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world. A third of the population lives on less than 60 pence a day. One in six children die before their fifth birthday, and the average life expectancy is just 48. The status of women in Afghanistan is especially low.

Much of this is a result of 30 years of conflict. Despite significant investment, there has been no improvement on the poverty rate in the last nine years, and inequality is actually growing. This seems to be the legacy that looms over Afghanistan.

These facts can make us feel pretty hopeless, helpless… angry even. Why aren’t things getting better?

If we take a closer look, we’ll see that there’s more to Afghanistan than meets the eye. It’s a gradual process, but through CAFOD’s work with our partners on the ground there, there are shoots of hope growing.

Read more about CAFOD’s work in Afghanistan

We are working with farmers and small-scale entrepreneurs to improve their crops and produce, and help them to access markets so that they can sell and trade to earn a living.

We’re also working to make sure women’s voices and needs are heard, both in their traditional roles but also as decision-makers and leaders within their community.

For women, Afghanistan is undeniably a better place than it once was. Today, women are entering the workforce in growing numbers, they make up 28 per cent of parliamentarians and girls comprise 39 per cent of school enrolments.

Of course, improvements in farming techniques and women’s empowerment will only have a limited impact unless the policies of wider society enable these groups to succeed. So we support farmers, entrepreneurs and communities to engage and influence the broader policies that currently hold them back.

CAFOD’s approach to long-term development

While there has been much development investment in Afghanistan, the results have at times been limited. What makes CAFOD’s work different? Perhaps more importantly than what we do is the way we do it.

By working within the local community, we can address their specific challenges, rather than take a one size fits all approach. Because our approach is locally led and locally owned, the achievements made are much more sustainable.

Watch how CAFOD works with communities

Of course, this work is complex and takes time. There are no quick fixes, but long term development is crucial in bringing about real, lasting change.

Development isn’t about giving handouts; no one wants to be dependent on others. Development is about enabling and empowering people to reach their potential.

The support we offer our brothers and sisters overseas is often just the starting point from which they can take control and change things for the better themselves. Through our partners, CAFOD is working to enable communities in Afghanistan, and around the world, to build their own legacy of hope and aspiration.

Gifts in wills make the world of difference

And your legacy could be part of their legacy, through a gift left in your will.

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Gifts in wills are one of the most important ways that we can commit to continue this kind of work. They give us the confidence to walk alongside communities for as long as is needed, helping them build their skills and their confidence so that they will one day be able to support themselves and share their knowledge and passion with other communities too.

Without gifts in wills, we would really struggle to carry out the valuable long-term partnerships with local organisations and communities that unlock this potential.

So if this is the kind of work that you want to be part of – to be at the heart of – why not give some thought to including a gift to CAFOD in your will? A gift in your will is a wonderful way to ensure that your faith and values will live on, and continue your journey with brothers and sisters in need around the world.

Visit to find out more about gifts in wills, or contact Hannah Caldwell at or 020 7095 5367.

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