South Asia Foundation Seeks to Protect Afghan Culture

When the Taliban  destroyed the colossal fifth-century Bamiyan Buddha’s and other priceless Afghan art, the South Asia Foundation (SAF) pledged to protect Afghanistan’s cultural heritage.

south-asiaThe South Asia Foundation (SAF) was formed after a June 16, 2003 meeting in Paris attended by Afghan Minister of Information and Culture, Hon Dr. Sayed Makhdoum Raheen. On his return to Kabul, he conveyed the decision to President Hamid Karzai for Afghanistan to accept membership of the SAF.

In October 2003, Hon Madanjeet Sing and his wife Madam France visited Kabul. They met President Karzai and accepted Afghanistan to be a member of SAF. Karzai nominated Minister of Information and Culture Dr. Sayed Makhdoom Raheen as the Chairman of SAF-Afghanistan chapter.

They agreed on establishing a cultural heritage preservation training institute in the name of UNESCO Madanjeet Singh Center for Preservation of Afghanistan cultural Heritages in Kabul. The center was designated for training South Asian cultural heritage specialists funded by the late Madanjeet Singh.

The institute was inaugurated on July 13, 2006 and named UNESCO-MADANJEET SINGH Center for preservation of Afghanistan Cultural Heritage (UMCPACH). Dr. Omara Khan Masoudi, general director of Afghanistan’s National Museum is the Vice-chairman of SAF-Afghanistan chapter.

My Role as General Secretary of the South Asia Foundation-Afghanistan

As General Secretary of SAF-Afghanistan, I began working on May 15, 2009. In 2009 I was working as a SAF administrative support assistant and I also had the responsibilities of managing clerical tasks in UNESCO/Madanjeet Singh Center for Preservation of Afghanistan Cultural Heritages.

In 2012,  former SAF-Afghanistan Secretary Obaidullah Raufi resigned. I started to work as General Secretary of SAF-Afghanistan and as Advisory Board Member of our Chapter in Kabul which consist of high-ranking officials and professors.

SAF’s core objective is to establish regional cooperation through education and cultural interaction among south Asian countries. SAF-Afghanistan receives many different scholarships of Master degree, Postgraduate diplomas and Bachelor degrees from twelve UNESCO/MADANJEET SINGH Institutes of Excellences in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Nepal.

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I am responsible coordinating with the Ministry of Higher Education, Kabul University and its different faculties and some other private universities to find qualified candidates for our Madanjeet singh scholarship group. I organize the special English-language test and other evaluations to select the best candidates for our scholarship program.

We organize different phases of cultural heritage preservation courses in our UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh center and we invite the trainees from different departments of the Information and Culture Ministry in Kabul and other provinces to receive the special training in our vocational training center.

I coordinate with expert professors from Kabul University to give their precious time for our training center and teach our invitee trainees every day. I am responsible for managing the administration tasks not only in the SAF-Afghanistan office, but also in our training center in Kabul.

I work beside the staff of the cultural heritage preservation training center to prepare all the documents, including the daily stipend of the trainees, salaries of the trainers, and other administration duties. I also volunteer as a teacher of “Information Technology with respect to the Cultural Heritage Preservation” in UMCPACH to promote the idea of mutual cooperation.

It is a pleasure to work for such a great organization like the SAF. High ranking officials, professors and other great people have membership in this prestigious organization. Through mutual cooperation and education, we all help implementing and accomplishing the objectives of the SAF.

Hamidullah Arefi is the General Secretary of the South Asia Foundation-Afghanistan.

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