(image by Jake Simkin)
War, Taliban, violations of human rights: unfortunately these are the things most associated with Afghanistan today. And yet in a society that has no place for them, 70% of the population of this country is made up of children.
Enter Australian skater Oliver Percovich, who first visited Afghanistan in 2007 with three skateboards in tow. It didn’t take long before he was surrounded by children eager to learn how to skate and his mission became clear. Since then, Olly has permanently relocated to Kabul and dedicated his life with his team to creating Skateistan, a non-profit NGO and full-functioning school where children can not only come to learn in a brand new skatepark facility, but in classrooms where they can choose to explore anything from creative arts to environmental health topics.
Regrettably, there are evident obstacles to teaching girls in a country such as Afghanistan but this NGO has worked closely with the local community and government to gain their full consent and support. It turns out, Afghans largely consider skateboarding a suitable activity for girls, but to respect the local law, they are taught on separate days to boys at the skatepark, by an all-female staff. Skateistan also arranges transport for the girls to make it easier and safer for them to attend.
Above is only an excerpt of something wonderful…
The folks behind Skateistan have opened branches in Pakistan and Cambodia as well. Check out the full article for a rundown of the organization’s history, plus an awesome trailer for their eponymous film that won the 2011 Cinema for Peace Berlin award for Most Valuable Documentary!
Major kudos all around.