HERE TO HELP: The idea for the new charity, which will help provide shoes to Afghani children, was put forward by soldiers in the country.
VILNIUS - The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and the NGO Savanoriu Centras (SC) have launched a project that will give Lithuanians the chance to help impoverished Afghani children by collecting money to buy shoes for the poor.
The idea to donate footwear to Afghani children came from Lithuanian soldiers serving in the country's Ghor province, where they witnessed the reality of local children having limbs amputated as a result of frostbite.
Money will be collected at four stations around Vilnius including the Municipal Government building, Europa Shopping mall and two other sites which are yet to be determined, from mid-December 2008 until the end of summer 2009.
The money will be collected for almost one year, Jurgita Margau, the project manager at Savanoriu Centras, told The Baltic Times. After collection, MFA representatives will travel to Afghanistan to buy shoes locally.
"They will buy the shoes in Afghanistan because it is cheaper there and for transport reasons. In this region there are no roads, so it is complicated. We wanted to do it for this winter, but it was too soon," Margau said.
Donations started last month via bank transfers after SC got a permit to collect money.
The winter shoes will be collected in the joint "Volunteer Service - Development Cooperation" and "Democracy Promotion Department" departments under an MFA project aimed at familiarizing the people of Lithuania with Afghanistan.
Margau said SC had already held exhibitions to show off the handicrafts of Afghani women and then auctioned them.
"We auctioned them to help them start business. In Afghanistan, it is normal for the men to work, but women are excluded from this," she said.
More exhibitions will take place next year to educate Lithuanians about Afghanistan 's including where the country is, how people live and the struggles they face.
The project partners are planning to train volunteers and send them to work in the day-center underway in the province of Ghor, with recruitment possibly starting as early as February of next year.
The Development Cooperation and Democracy Promotion program has been allocated 11.4 million litas (3.3 million euros) for 2008, about 50 percent of which went to projects underway in Afghanistan's Ghor province, where Lithuania heads a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT), the Foreign Ministry's official Web site data shows.
To donate money via bank transfer:
Account: LT03 7300 0101 1162 8572
Bank name: AB Bankas Hansabankas
Bank code: 73000
SWIFT code: HABALT22