Inner West Independent

Keeping a promise to home

Mahboba Rawi's charity helps the women of Afghanistan

Mahboba Rawi has dedicated her life to helping the people of Afghanistan rise up out of poverty.

A former Afghan refugee who calls Sydney home, Ms Rawi started the charity Mahboba’s Promise in 1998. The foundation’s mission is about “providing basic necessities of life; education, health, training, and mostly to give hope to the people who lost hope”, Ms Rawi said.

The people she helps are among the most vulnerable members of society; widowed women and orphaned children. With no way to support themselves, they are often forced to beg on the streets.

Ms Rawi believes that education is key to transforming people’s lives. She has set up Peace Houses and Hope Houses in the Afghan capital, Kabul. The Hope Houses provide orphaned children with accommodation, and in the Peace Houses, they receive vital training and skills.

For the people she helps, Ms Rawi says, “it’s like winning the lotto”. They are rescued from a life on the streets, and provided with education and healthcare. Ms Rawi thinks of the orphans as her own children, and they call her “mother”.

“I follow them up when they grow up. I will make them somebody, and then I let them go,” she said.

“It’s not just an orphanage, it’s a place to develop them and to teach them skill so they can stand up on their feet.”

Some of the orphans have become solicitors and pharmacists, while some help to run her organisation.

Speaking about what the future holds for Afghanistan after NATO troops leave the country at the end of 2014, Ms Rawi stressed the need for the people of Afghanistan not to be forgotten.

“The life is going to be a miserable life. There is going to be more bombs, more poverty, more disturbing suiciding,” she told the Inner West Independent.

“I want the people in Australia to [know] that the soldiers left, but let’s not forget people, because this is a tough time for them. Please, open your heart to the people of Afghanistan.”

A three-course gala fundraising dinner to raise money for Mahboba’s Promise will be held at 7.30pm on March 1 at Balmain Town Hall. The evening will include traditional Afghan food, dancing, craftwork and a silent auction.

To donate to Mahboba’s Promise and help widowed women and orphaned children in Afghanistan, please visit

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