Close to 200 Afghan athletes, both male and female, had gone to India to participate in the 12th South Asian Games from February 6th to the 16th. A total of 8 countries (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka) participated in 23 sports at the event.
Even though, Afghanistan went into the competitions as one of the least funded nations, the Afghan athletes came home today with 35 medals – 7 gold, 9 silver, and 19 bronze. In one sport, Afghanistan even managed to dominate all the countries involved, including the most well-funded host nation of India. Afghans won a total of 6 gold medals in Taekwondo, host country India had to settle for second place. History was also made when Sumaya Ghulami won the gold in the women’s Under 57kg category to become the first Afghan woman ever to win a gold medal in Taekwondo at the South Asian Games.
P. Michael McKinley, the United States Ambassador to Afghanistan today announced that the American government via it’s USAID (United States Agency for International Development) program will provide $37.9 million to Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Health (MoPH). Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Health deals with all matters concerning the health of Afghanistan’s population. The money will be used by the ministry for self-improvement. Dr. Ferozuddin Feroz, the head of the ministry said that the focus will be on improving the ministry’s management, financial affairs, and human resources. The money in a sense will be used so that the ministry can be more self-sufficient, instead of being heavily reliant on foreign donors.
Based on reporting from 1TV and Pajhwok
In cricket news, Afghanistan clinched a two day series against Zimbabwe. Afghanistan’s Mohammad Shahzad entered the record books by scoring 118 runs in the second match today. Click here to read more (via aopnews.com)
In powerlifting, Afghans picked up 8 medals (7 gold and 1 bronze) in the recently concluded Subrata Classic Open International Powerlifting, Benchpress and Deadlift Championship in India. Click here to read more (via aopnews.com).
AOPNEWS:Â Afghanistan defeated Zimbabwe by 2 wickets today at Sharjah Cricket Stadium (UAE) in the fifth and final match to win the ODI (one day international) series 3-2.Â With todayâ€™s win, this becomes Afghanistanâ€™s second series win againt a Full Member. Click here to read more.
On Friday, December 25th, during his first visit to Kabul, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi officially inaugurated Afghanistan’s new parliament building, which is being described as “India’s symbolic gift of democracy to Afghanistan”.
President Ashraf Ghani, Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi, Speaker of the Lower of House Parliament (Wolesi Jirga) and Abdul Hadi Muslimyar, Chairman of the Upper House (Meshrano Jirga) of Parliament were present during the inauguration ceremony.
Construction work on the building had started back in 2007 by an Indian company at a cost of $90 million, according to Afghanistan’s Tolo News. The new building has one of the largest domes in Asia, and has elements of both Mughal and modern architecture. Marbles were brought in from Herat province to be used in the building. The building is located between the historic Darulaman and Queen’s palaces in Kabul.
According to Khaama Press, the building comprises of 4 sections. It will house both the Lower House (Wolesi Jirga) and the Upper House (Meshrano Jirga). It also has a masjid, offices for lawmakers, conference rooms, dining halls, a library, press office, and much more.
See video footage of the building from Tolo News
Tolo News: Defending champions Afghanistan National Football Team on Thursday beat Bangladesh in its first South Asian Football Championship (SAFF) game by scoring four goals against the rival team. National team players Massih Saighani, Faisal Shaiasta, Zubair Amir and Khaibar Amani scored one goal each to seal a major victory against Bangladesh team. Click here to read more (external link).
Khaama Press:Â The Ministry of Urban Development Affairs (MUDA) inaugurated a ring road in Mazar-e-Sharif, the capital city of northern Balkh province of Afghanistan on Sunday.Â The $28 million ring road having a length of 6.4 kilometers in four lines has been constructed with the financial support of Japan with one third of the project already completed.Â The project once completed is expected to resolve the major transportation and traffic issues of Balkh province. Click here to read more (external link).
Construction work on a highway that connects Gardez (Paktia) with Khost City has been completed, and an inauguration ceremony was held today. Work on the highway had started 9 years ago.The 101 km long and 9 meters wide road was completed in two phases. The first phase (63km) was completed by an American construction company, Louis Berger Group / Black & Veatch. The second part (38km) was completed by the Afghan based Mashriq Construction Company. A large number of small bridges and protection walls were also created as part of the project, which was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) at a cost of $232 million. The hope is that this new highway will help improve the economic and security situation of both provinces.
Based on reporting by Pajhwok Afghan News and Ariana Television Network
Khaama Press: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has announced a grant of $11 million for enhanced project facilities, primarily to support slaughterhouses and modernization of the livestock industry. Click here to read more (external link).
Afghanistan’s Bakhtar News Agency (BNA) reported today that 28 development projects have recently been completed in the northern province of Sar-e Pul’s Gosfandi district. The projects were managed and implemented by the the National Solidarity Program of the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation, according to the BNA report. The projects completed included such things as the construction of 4 schools, a retaining wall, a dam, three small bridges, and public toilets.
Meanwhile in neighboring Faryab province, Bayan Shamal reported today that construction work on a bridge in Islam-Qalah village, which is located in Shirintagab district has been completed; the bridge can now be put to use. According to the Bayan Shamal report, the bridge has a length of 35 meters, and it is 3.5 meters wide. Funding for the bridge came from a local resident who wanted solve the transportation issues of the residents, especially students attending Zahiruddin High School who needed to cross a river in order to get to school.
Tolo News: Malalai Zikria, an Afghan actress and film maker, won the best actress award at the Asian World Film Festival (AWFF) for the hit Afghan drama, Utopia, in Los Angeles. Utopia, an Afghan drama directed by Hassan Nazer and produced by Malalai Zikria, has also been selected as the Afghan entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards in the United States next year.Â Click here to read more (external link).
Dr. Sakeena Yacoobi, also known as Afghanistan’s “Mother of Education” was awarded the 2015 WISE Prize for Education today in Doha, Qatar. The prize was awarded to her by Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, the chairperson of the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development. In attendance were well known women personalities from around the world, such as 2011 Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Leymah Gwobee, and the American First Lady, Michelle Obama. This year’s WISE Prize is worth $500,000.
Sixty-five year-old Dr. Yacoobi is the Executive Director of the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL), an Afghan women-led organization she founded in 1995. The organization provides teacher training, education and health services to women and children. In fact, AIL was the first organization to offer human rights and leadership training to Afghan women in the 1990s. AIL even supported 80 underground home schools for 3000 girls in Afghanistan during the Taliban regime.
In her acceptance speech, Dr. Yacoobi, said, “I feel honored and blessed to be chosen as this year’s WISE Prize for Education Laureate. It is particularly meaningful because this is such a crucial time in Afghanistan. My people live in terror and poverty. They are suffering and feel hopeless. Yet, at this moment a light has appeared. With this Prize, we know that we can continue to educate more and more Afghans, giving them hope and encouraging them to go forward no matter what they are facing. It is such a great gift to me, and I dedicate the Prize to the Afghan Institute of Learning and all of the women, men and children we are educating.”
Dr. Yacoobi’s vision for Afghanistan is a free country, a society where everybody is educated, especially every single girl.