On Sunday 30th April, the HELA organization conducted its fourth HELA-AFMUN Monthly Mini Conference. This time the Conference was focused on the committee of UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime), on the topic of Human Trafficking and Addressing Migrant Smuggling across the Mediterranean. The conference was held at Dunya University of Afghanistan thanks to their generous partnership.
The conference was unique because it consisted of two committees, an English language committee and the first ever committee in Dari, a first in Afghanistan. HELA is proud to be a leader in starting Dari MUN and now Dari MUN conference.
The conference started with an opening ceremony, in which guests from different private and public organizations were invited.During the opening Ceremony our respected Keynote Speaker, Dr. Ahmad Shah Sangdil , Head of Dunya University in Afghanistan, spoke about “How youth can make a change”. Mr. Rahmatullah Hamdard, CEO & Founder of HELA and Mr. Sulaiman Sulaimankhil Deputy CEO and Co-Founder of HELA both spoke about “How HELA first started and about HELA’s achievements and its future goals.HELA team also conducted a pre-training session for all the delegates before the conference, helping to enhance their skills and allowing them to develop into a real MUNer in Afghanistan!
Finally the conference was ended by providing the delegates with certificates; participants will also receive their Digital Certificates, which will enable them to start their own MUN clubs in Afghanistan. HELA is ready to support the development of Model United Nations in Afghanistan, and to teach about important topics being addressed by the United Nations!
More photos from the conference and opportunities from HELA, coming soon…
By Rahmat Hamdard, CEO of Hope for Education and Leadership in Afghanistan (HELA)
HELA started working one year ago in Kabul, Afghanistan with eight students from different districts of Kabul, both male and female. They were our freshmen class, having started our very first semester with them to implement the MUN idea, for the first time, in Afghanistan.
Our very first semester was all about different topics like debates on many topics of interest to the community and the world: leadership topics, self-confidence and public speaking. Also better communications was also in priority of our schedule because it’s very important to have strong communications with different types of people and categories to achieve our goal in our lives.
In this year we found the support of our partners, student’s families, friends in the community and outside of Afghanistan’s borders.
And we want to especial thank them as they supported us in our very first step and supported us.
The huge goal and achievement in our first year that we had is that we trained a successful leaders team and after that we sent them to their very first international conference to THIMUN in Qatar. They are now active as leaders and they have started their first step with HELA and now helping and running parts of HELA!
Few words from the community about HELA
“Thank you HELA for providing best for my best son.” Mujtaba, HELA student mom
“I believe that gender equality in program is bringing bright future for a country happy to be supporter of HELA.” Sahar, Social activist in Afghanistan
“Youths are like gold and when they stands with strong education they becomes diamonds! we are proud to be a strong support to HELA youth.” Afghanistan Youth Union
HELA has big plans for their upcoming year, including expansion, new office space, and more conferences!
Samir was one of the original MUN delegates from Afghanistan to participate in THIMUN Qatar 2015. He is now attending school in Bangkok, but his passion for MUN remains!
Everyone says that MUN is an organization which is trying to increase the skills of youth in any field of life. MUN hopes to improve the skills of youth at an international level and through student’s hard work, try to represent youth as an international delegate with the new skills.
But for me Model United Nation showed me different faces in my life, something unique. I mean I have never seen some of the things that MUN has given me, not even in my dream. At my first conference when I went to THIMUN 2015 in Doha, I found MUN to be an educational simulation and academic competition in which students learn about diplomacy, international relations, United Nations. MUN involves and teaches research, public speaking, debating, and writing skills, in addition to critical thinking, teamwork, and leadership abilities. And for me it was very interesting and something new, because I have never done the above mentioned things before.
I then got another opportunity to participate in TASMUN in Taipei, Taiwan which was a great experience in my life. I made many new friends and increased my knowledge about MUN.
Now I am doing MUN at my school here at Regents International School in Bangkok, Thailand. It is very interesting and very useful for me. I believe that doing MUN is not only an exclusive privilege for me, it is also a privilege for my country, friends, and nation. I learned from MUN how to solve the main problems of the nations and by which way it is possible to solve, or at least limit, these problems from increasing. I learned how to make an impact on these problems.
Now MUN has become part of my life and it has become my passion. MUN brought and will continue to bring a lot of changes in my life.
Thanks MUN and to those people who invented and created such an amazing organization!!!
On Wednesday Mohammad Bilal Mirbatzai, Finance Director of Hope for Education and Leadership in Afghanistan (HELA), attended a seminar for NGOs which was held in the Continental Hotel. The event was hosted by Counterpart International. About 30 people from about 30 different organizations were invited to the conference and Bilal attended on behalf of the HELA organization.
Participants at the seminar came along to find solutions to how to stabilize an organization financially and also how to develop a new organization. This seminar lasted the entire day and all the attendants tried to find ways and solutions to help new NGOs.
Bilal stated “I felt very happy because I meet with lots of CEOs from NGOs and shared ideas. We participated in discussions about the problems of how to establish NGOs and the steps of making NGOs. There are problems that we talked about why they (officials) take money (bribes) when you are going to start work or register your NGO. Overall it was a great time and lots of people were interested in our NGO when I said we were working in MUN , OMUN, and film making projects.”
It was a big honor that in such a big Seminar that HELA was invited. We are looking forward to taking part in such Seminars. This provides many opportunities for our members, students and even to other organizations for youth!
By Hassan Akoum, Former Qatar International School student, THIMUN Qatar Delegate and now a student at American University of Beirut.
Three years of happiness, joy, motivation, empowerment and awareness. These five descriptions adequately portray my three year experience with THIMUN Qatar. The organization has helped me in various aspects in life as before I even joined MUN, I was dumb founded to what was happening around me. Today, THIMUN has made me an international citizen who is truly engaged in every humanitarian and security issue.
Founded in 2011, THIMUN Qatar is known for prominently supporting the youth across the Middle East. Thanks to THIMUN Qatar, ideas have been formed, significant global issues such as the Syrian Crisis have been discussed and voices have been heard. Before my first conference in 2013, I barely had any confidence to go up to a podium and speak but with the support of my mentors and colleagues, it became possible. After my first conference in January 2013, I went on to be a main submitter on four consecutive occasions and they were all passed with overwhelming majorities. Before going to my first THIMUN Qatar conference in 2013, I was still undecided on what I want to be in the future and where. However, that all changed when I participated as it was through MUN in general and THIMUN Qatar in specific where I discovered my true passion: Global affairs and sociology. Today, I am a student at the American University of Beirut which is recognized as one of the region’s most participating and enthusiastic (student wise) in current Middle Eastern and Lebanese affairs. Besides my sixth form grades and parental motivation, THIMUN Qatar did play a notable role in me choosing AUB. I hope to develop my leadership skills even more and further expand my knowledge on different cultures and affairs.
The people behind my enjoyment are countless as I’ve met hundreds of people from different countries and cultures, however; there are always particular people who made it an exceptional experience. Firstly, Mrs. Sinclair of Qatar International School – my MUN coordinator- provided the club and I with unconditional love and support. She handled everything in the most professional manner and always guided us in the right path. QIS was always known for its commitment to MUN and its constant success at major conferences and without Mrs. Sinclair, that wouldn’t have been possible. I wish her the best of luck in her future in all aspects.
Another person I’d love to thank is Mrs. Lisa Martin- head of THIMUN Qatar-. Mrs. Martin gave me the opportunity to participate in a life changing project: The THIMUN Qatar Afghanistan Initiative. It was back in Qatar Leadership Conference where Mrs. Martin introduced herself to the Qatar MUN society and it was through that conference where Mrs. Martin offered the hundreds attending the conference to participate in the Afghanistan project and without hesitation, I signed up. Thankfully I was chosen to be part of it and frankly, it was an amazing experience.
Throughout the years, media has portrayed Afghanistan as a country of war informally dominated by terrorist groups and underdevelopment. However, it never revealed the face of its youth who have massive potential in education and expression. By November 2014, my team and I began working with five Afghan students along with UN Habitat representative in Afghanistan: The Canadian humanitarian Peter Dalglish through the program Blackboard Collaborative. At first, they were hesitant and lost when it came to formal debating but within two months, they learned how to do so and came to participate in THIMUN Qatar as the first ever Afghan student delegation from Kabul. Their participation was breathtaking. They showed over a 1500 students what the media didn’t. Today, a formal MUN club has been established in Kabul, Afghanistan and it is officially recognized as an NGO. I can’t be more proud to what my team and I have contributed to starting in Afghanistan.
Last but not least is Ola Al Tai, THIMUN Qatar 2016’s Deputy Secretary General and a friend who means a lot to me. Taking full charge of the MUN club at QIS in 2014 as the Secretary General, Ola has always supported us to do our best in conferences. As a friend (and also part of the Afghanistan Initiative team), Ola never failed to put a smile on my face in the last academic year even during my hardships. Our friendship came out of competition and team work at the same time as I served as the vice secretary general of the MUN club in QIS. Her passion to Model United Nations is extraordinary and her loving character brings a smile to everyone. I’m confident that THIMUN Qatar will be something else with her as DSG.
There are a lot of things that made me enjoy my MUN experience in general in Qatar but this article would sum it up. I wish everyone who I’ve worked with over the past three years the best of luck in their academic future. If I were to give a general advice on joining MUN, I could write a full book but to sum it up by looking at current events in the Middle East; I would say that MUN helps you in solving issues in a more professional, mature and intellectual manner rather than violence and taking such issues as a personal matter that could ruin society relationships. More importantly, I would also say that MUN helps get rid of stereotypes and promotes friendship and acceptance.
Rahmatullah Hamdard is the new President and CEO of Afghanistan’s first NGO devoted primarily to Model United Nations. Formed under the umbrella organization HELA (Hope for Education and Leadership in Afghanistan), this new organization will carry on the initiative started at the 2014 Qatar Leadership Conference. (For more information refer to Full Circle: The TQ Afghanistan Initiative).
After starting Afghanistan Model United Nation’s project (AFMUN) with the Skateistan organization, I decided to do a big thing for Afghan youth: providing MUN international leadership programs with more students and also to spread this throughout Kabul and then maybe in the whole country. The only way of spreading it in high level was to register as a local Afghan NGO. The focus of the NGo would be to focus on Model UN, OMUN and the THIMUN Qatar Northwestern film festival. I wanted to start it with schools and organizations and also to get an office where other students would be able to come. So I shared my idea with Miss Lisa (Head of THIMUN Qatar,) and she kindly and happily supported the idea and promised me to help me and my team in the registration process. The biggest challenge was to raise funds for registration and an office space. Our team started working hard on raising funds; they started of asking their friends whom they visited at the MUN Qatar conference. Fortunately and finally, we raised the much needed money to start the process.
The first and biggest problem in the registration process was that the government did not accept the name AFMUN, since no NGO can contain the words United Nations, so we were thinking to choose a name which must have the similarity to our projects. We decided on the name of HELA (Hope for Education and Leadership in Afghanistan). In Dari, this word also means hope, so we thought that was appropriate. One month later we finally got the license and now we are able to spread our project throughout the country.
HELA has several major goals: to spread AFMUN (Afghanistan Model United Nation), OMUN (Online Model United Nation in Afghanistan) and also have our students make some films or short documentaries so then many youth will be able to choose their way or their future.
We are some of the first MUNers in Afghanistan and want to improve this such a amazing leadership project in our country. We follow the THIMUN model, meaning that we are run to empower young Afghans to have a say in the world! We look forward to attending more international conference and supporting new leadership opportunities for students.
My name is Murtaza Hamra and I am from a middle class family in Kabul. I was always looking for an opportunity to go oversees and meet different people from different cultures and different societies. So it was a shocking moment when Mr. Peter Dalglish told me that I am going to have a trip to Taipei, to Taiwan for the TASMUN (Taipei American School of Model United Nations) conference.
At first I thought this conference will be easy but when I researched about MUN conferences, it was completely different than I expected. At first it was difficult for me to get ready for the TASMUN, because I didn’t know what are opening speech, policy statement and resolution. But my friend Samir Khairzada also my partner for the TASMUN, who got an opportunity to attend THIMUN in Qatar in Feb 2015, He really helped me to get ready for the TASMUN And if he wasn’t then I was nothing so I am grateful from my friend Samir Khairzada. It’s really a life changing opportunity for me and my family, now I can see my future so clearly. I am super excited about Taiwan, it’s my first trip to the abroad, and yes this trip will be completely changing my life.
Thanks from the Model United Nations for providing such conferences to the international students to prove to the world that we can also bring some changes. And share our thoughts to improve the world, I am very excited because I had always seen presidents and other high authorities in conferences but never experienced it in real, because I didn’t attend any other conference, but now this conference is going to teach me lots of things. I am a little bit nervous also because it’s my first trip and first conference and at the same time I am very excited also coz I am going to give my best at the conference and rock the stage.
The THIMUN Qatar-Afghanistan initiative is now in its fifth month. The five delegates who traveled to Doha in February are now well into their club activities, having taken the complete journey from novice delegates to experienced club volunteers. For those unfamiliar with the initiative, a little background is in order.
The idea of a collaborative project was born out of informal conversations at the Qatar Leadership Conference. Like all good QLC initiatives, it started as a ‘what if’ conversation, and by the time the Head of THIMUN Qatar, Lisa Martin, and UN Habitat’s head of mission in Afghanistan, Peter Daglish were done, the idea of a travel team to Qatar had been formulated. For three months, students from Qatar and around the world mentored the five Afghan Delegates, (as well as a larger group of students in Dalglish’s ‘Super English’ class). These students worked together via skype, Blackboard Collaborate and Facebook to prep and train one another. The Gang of Five, as they were affectionately called by the organizers, arrived in Doha not only bursting with enthusiasm, but armed with policy statements, opening speeches and resolutions.
The Afghan delegates participated successfully in their committee. They also took the conference by storm, making friends, holding press conferences, networking with students from around the world and in one special case, becoming very close with the John Burroughs School from Missouri, USA. The two delegations played tourist together, visiting the Islamic Art Museum, the souk, and even taking a very special Dhow ride. The Afghan students also visited the American School of Doha’s Sport’s Day, were invited to an old fashioned BBQ, and went to the mall and the movies.
At the cultural night the last evening of the conference, the delegates wowed their friends with some skateboarding, even enticing Lisa Martin onto a board for a few brief seconds.
It could have ended there. But as we know, once the MUN seed is planted, it is often quick to take root, and so the Gang of Five headed back to Kabul, armed with ideas and new-found knowledge and experience. If the trip to Doha seemed rather miraculous, what happened next was even more so.
THIMUN in Afghanistan
On a cold day in early March, the first THIMUN meeting was held in Afghanistan. The MUN novice delegates-turned MUN club leaders welcomed 22 students into their opening club session: 11 girls and 11 boys, a remarkable feat in a country where girls are extremely underrepresented in educational programs. A “What is MUN?” session was held, and our club leaders began to review the basics. Again, with the collaborative support of their network of students, they began to teach their new club members. We asked them to share their thoughts on the early development of their club.
We asked the Kabul Club leaders a few questions on the set up of their MUN program, their goals, and what they hoped to see in the future.
Who are the students in the new club and how are they selected?
Sulaiman: All of the students who are participating MUN club are selected from Skateistan students-they are top students at Skateistan. For them MUN was something new as it was for us. Most of them found it really effective for them , as some of them said ” this will help me to achieve my future goals.”
Rahmat: The students who are participating in the MUN Afghanistan club are all from different ethnicities, but most of the students are from poor families.They are studying but they are also working, but all of them are creative minded children. The reaction when we select them for the class was that they couldn’t even believe that they will be included in this project because. There are very few organizations which are providing international opportunity and MUN is that kind project; they all were so excited and the good thing that we found from their enthusiasm was their hard work in the class to make the most of the opportunity.
Was it hard for students at first?
Sulaiman At first it was hard for students to talk and take part in class activities and after the second session we saw a big difference in their abilities as they were more confident and they started dreaming of becoming leaders.
How did you see them change?
Rahmat: They all are trying to achieve the opportunity so they all are trying. At first they were a bit shy but now they all trying to take part in the class, and are all trying to be the best and to be the top of the class.
What are the goals of the club?
Rahmat: The ultimate goal of the club is to make a place for the club as an organization where we would be able to hold an MUN conferences, film festival and Leadership conferences inside the country and to invite worldwide students to Afghanistan. The objectives are
• First we need to start the program in one or two schools. • Send some of the students to THIMUN Qatar festivals. • Make a core of MUN specialists. • Find some people to help us to make a separate place for the project.
Sulaiman: Our goal is to make this club wider in Kabul first and then in the provinces. So overall our goal is to promote it to an organization like Thimun Qatar. It is only possible to work hard and get support of some governmental and non governmental NGOs to help us develop our program.
The THIMUN Qatar office is thrilled to be supporting these young delegate-turned leaders, and look forward to future participation by Afghan students in our programs.
One of our TQ delegates from Afghanistan, Mursal, reflects on what THIMUN Qatar meant to her and how it is helping her achieve her dreams.
It wasn’t always this way … I started out trying to achieve my dreams when I saw my country in a bad economy situation and try to find way to help my own people, specially girls. Suddenly I try to plan my life even I was very small, but I tried to do something and I thought if I plan my life to help them, at least I could calm myself. Then I joined Skateistan; when I entered Skateistan I saw that this is the place that I have planned to do in future so … I got very happy! Here there is a resource that is helping those poor kids who work in streets; in short Skateistan helped me to get loads of new connections with new people-like Mr. Peter Dalglish. He is an inspiring person he always tries to find new opportunities for youth. He found MUN and suggested us to try this. And then five students of Peter (four of them Skateistan members including me, Rahmat, Sulaiman and one of Peter’s students) went with us to Doha, Qatar to do Model United Nations.
Every country was representing another country and we were representing Djibouti, a small African country. On the last day of THIMUN Qatar we had a press conference; everyone was asking questions us about Afghanistan about Skateistan about how we feel that we are first delegates from Afghanistan in first I was very nervous about that how to deal with them but when it started, so it became very easy for me everyone were very good with us their manners the way that they talk with us I never expected that , I could say that it was a fantastic experience for me in fact for all of us to find new friends, meet new people from around the world. I would say that it was the greatest journey in my life that I have ever had!
And then we got our certificates from Qatar Academy for our roles as future leaders of Afghanistan that was the best part. It was an amazing feeling and the special thing was that we met Ms. Lisa Martin. She is an awesome, inspiring lady for me and every girl who has the dream of helping others. Before we came to Qatar she helped us a lot to feel comfortable meeting her and others she helped us to find contact with other students around she impress me a lot and I really enjoy meeting everyone in Qatar specially Ms. Lisa Martin. We got lots of experience during this conference besides; it’s just like achieving my goals -it helped me to get nearer to my dreams!
From skateboarding to debating, the first delegation from Afghanistan reveal their thoughts on their phenomenal THIMUN journey. Prior to their arrival at Qatar; the dedicated individuals were also part of the Super English School where they spent a couple of hours each Saturday in the company than none other than Mr. Peter Dalglish.
To begin the interview; the young delegates (Mursal Saidali, Delegate of Djibouti in GA6 and Sulaiman Sulaimankhil, Delegate of Djibouti in GA3) gushed about their happiness to be the first to be involved in THIMUN Qatar from their homeland.
“It’s great that we are going to make history, the first MUN students from Afghanistan, we feel very grateful to be able to do this” exclaimed Mursal with a smile.
This is a significant breakthrough not just for THIMUN history but for the history of the nation of Afghanistan. These incredible young individuals are a symbol of hope for all those suffering in their home country. They are a symbol of hope for all the unique individuals who are unable to attain an education.
The five delegates are eager to contribute to the debates and agree on resolutions in order to gain knowledge and experience. ‘The best part for was debating’ said Sulaiman Sulaimankhil one of the Afghan delegates, ‘It was awesome’ he added.
When asked to reflect about the main differences between Qatar and Afghanistan, Mursal Saidali and another Afghani delegate solemnly admit, ‘Qatar is a very developed country, and our country isn’t as developed, and it’s awesome to be able to roam around and skate freely’.
To conclude the interview; the pair discussed the relevance of MUN for youth and how important it is for them to get involved.