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Afghanistan and Central Asian Association

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Afghanistan and Central Asian Association
ACAA Blue 300dpi CMYK.jpg
FounderDr Nooralhaq Nasimi
HeadquartersLewisham, Hounslow
  • London & Afghanistan

The Afghanistan and Central Asian Association (ACAA) is a secular, non-aligned, non-governmental organisation and charitable incorporated organisation that works with the Afghan diaspora in the UK, providing support and skills to further their integration into British society. Beginning as a community organisation that provided a platform for founder and director Nooralhaq Nasimi to provide free cultural events and day trips for the local Afghan community, its jurisdiction has now expanded. Now working with "Afghans and Central Asians living away from their homeland, providing the skills, support, and knowledge to live and prosper in the UK".[1]

History[edit | edit source]

Founder/Director[edit | edit source]

The organisation was founded in 2001 by Nooralhaq Nasimi. Nasimi arrived in the UK in 1999 in a refrigerated container with his wife and three young children as a political refugee escaping the Taliban regime in the fear that he would face retribution for his liberal beliefs.[2] From 1999, he studied English at Lewisham College, before undertaking a programme at South Bank University to study the English legal system. The organisation was formally established in 2001 in Lewisham with the help of local MPs and organisations. Nasimi was granted asylum in the UK in 2004.[3]

The organisation[edit | edit source]

In 2001, the charity was established, and was registered as an official charity in 2003.[4] The charity's core services were initially centred in Deptford, in the London Borough of Lewisham. It began its project in Afghanistan- through its two civil advice centres- in 2013.

In 2017, the organisation established its second office in the London Borough of Hounslow, serving the largest Afghan community of any town of the UK, amounting to 8,000 individuals.[5]

Services[edit | edit source]

ESOL Classes[edit | edit source]

ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) Classes have run at the organisation since its foundation in 2001, and aim to support "integration, engagement and employment in the UK."

Supplementary school[edit | edit source]

Funded by the BBC Children in Need, the supplementary school based in Lewisham provides educational support with school subjects for children and young people from Afghanistan. Similarly, the supplementary school in Hounslow has a similar remit, despite not receiving funding from the same donors/organisations; it is primarily funded by Hounslow Council.

Weekly Workshops for Muslim Women[edit | edit source]

Women's Tea Corner, Afghanistan and Central Asian Association (Lewisham)

Also known as the "Women's Tea Corner", the weekly workshops aim to give women a "stronger voice... increasing their confidence as members of both their society of origin and British society."[6] It combines ESOL instruction with export-led workshops on women's rights and issues, working through a variety of mediums such as art therapy and music.

Zanan Project[edit | edit source]

Since 2010, ACAA has been commissioned by the Home Office through Lewisham council to deliver a women's programme aimed at preventing radicalisation and improving integration. The project has helped to raise awareness of the efforts of the UK government's Prevent and counter-terrorism strategies, helping women understand the role they can play in preventing children and young people from being drawn into terrorism; in the most recent 2016-2017 third-party evaluation o the project, 90% of those in the programme said they would recommend it to others.

The jurisdiction of their support is not restricted only to Afghans and Central Asians; beneficiaries from places such as Iran, Somalia, Eastern Europe, and West Africa often use the services alongside the Afghan diaspora.[7]

Volunteering[edit | edit source]

The organisation supports volunteers through a range of roles in outreach, research and policy, marketing and communications, administration, events and mentors. Currently, there are between 50-75 volunteers that help with the various functions of the organisation.

Services outside of the UK[edit | edit source]

Citizens Advice Centres in Kabul and Pul-e-khumri[edit | edit source]

The two citizens advice centres in Kabul and Pul-e-kumri were established in 2013 to provide free, impartial and confidential legal advice to the local community.[8] The two centres both served their own idiosyncratic purposes, however; the centre in Kabul focused on employment counselling and women's legal advice, whilst the centre in Pul-e-khumri focused on providing lessons in computer technology, English and other life skills. With support from the Evan Cornish Foundation and the Department for International Development (DFID), the ACAA was able to expand the remit of the centre's services to women's prisons in Afghanistan, with more than 500 women receiving legal advice in its first year, focusing predominantly on cases of divorce, domestic violence, & forced marriage.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Who we are - ACAA". ACAA. Retrieved 2017-08-13.
  2. "We will always appreciate the support of the British people". www.refugeecouncil.org.uk. Retrieved 2017-07-27.
  3. "Meet the man who fled the Taliban and is now helping Afghan refugee women in London". International Business Times. 20 June 2017. Retrieved 15 February 2018.
  4. "Charity overview". Retrieved 2017-07-27.
  5. "The Afghan Muslim Community in England Understanding Muslim Ethnic Communities". Communities and Local Government: 6, 28.
  6. "Refugee Week: Female Refugees - The Silent Refugee Community". HuffPost UK. Retrieved 2017-07-27.
  7. "NGOs and Refugees: The Afghanistan and Central Asian Association". Researching Sociology @ LSE. 2016-11-28. Retrieved 2017-07-27.
  8. "Afghanistan's first Citizen's Advice Centres: A path to foreign aid success?". South Asia @ LSE. 2016-11-24. Retrieved 2017-07-27.

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