£1.3m raised by Linda Norgrove Foundation

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More than £1.3 million has been raised for good causes courtesy of the Linda Norgrove Foundation the charity set up in memory of the Lewis aid worker kidnapped and killed in Afghanistan in 2010.

Linda had been working in Afghanistan when she was seized by rebels in September 2010 and was killed during a rescue attempt by US special forces the following month.

The charity was set up by Linda’s parents John and Lorna Norgrove, who established the foundation, so that their 36 year old daughter would be remembered for her contribution to life, rather than her tragic death (pictured is the annual 10k fundraising event in aid of the Foundation which takes place in Uig).

The charity’s focus from the start has been to help women and children affected by the war in Afghanistan.

The money raised by the foundation has so far helped 76 grassroots projects, including the establishment of a new school SCAWNO in Kabul in Afghanistan, which is attended by more than 300 children, many of whom missed out on earlier schooling.

John described: “When we started funding SCAWNO in 2012 they were struggling as the Afghan benefactor who had started the centre had died.

“They run classes for kids in judo, calligraphy, Koran, computing and English and sewing/tailoring classes for women.”

The Foundation has also been able to award university scholarships to 44 girls, five of which are studying medicine, and has provided assistance to women’s projects.

John explained how establishing the Foundation took their minds off the tragedy of Linda’s death.

In March John and Lorna travelled to Afghanistan to visit the projects that the Foundation supports.

He said: “It is difficult running a charity from Mangersta when you are sat in front of the computer, although you get the stories of how the Foundation makes a difference, it doesn’t beat being with the people who have benefited. Also being out there gives you an idea of the conditions people are living in.”

Of the trip itself, he commented: “For Lorna and I it was good to meet with Linda’s colleagues from the time she worked for the U.N. and to spend some evenings with her Afghan friends, bittersweet but ultimately healing.”

He continued: “It was dispiriting that since our trip there has been an increase in ethnic kidnappings and beheadings and more heavy fighting as local Taliban have been reinforced by ISIS.

“Western troops have left and now others with an interest in disrupting a return towards ‘normality’ move in.

“Our sympathies lie with the everyday Afghans as they try to live normal lives and bring up their families.”

The Foundation is funded by individuals, from all round the world. The trustees, who are not paid ensure that funds are devoted to the charity’s aims.

Talking about keeping the overheads low, John explained: “We don’t organise many fundraising events to keep our overheads down. Our overheads are less than 2 per cent, compared to an average of 18 per cent for other charities, instead we rely on producing our twice yearly newsletter and sending that out to supporters to raise funds directly.”

The Foundation looks to fund smaller projects that do not appeal to larger charities but which fit better with the donations given by the majority of supporters.

Occasionally they fund work directly, but mostly will provide funds to other charities for particular projects.

John described how many women sympathise with the charity’s aims, saying: “Women identify with and want to help children and Afghan women who are seen as downtrodden.

“It is an entirely different social system there, it is not all negative, there is not as much violence towards women as you may expect, but it is old fashioned with women’s place being seen as being in the home, and it is the men’s duty to look after them.”

Talking about how Linda would have viewed the Foundation’s success, John said she would have been delighted: “Linda was never an extrovert, so she might have been a bit nonplussed by the attention, but she would have been delighted by the end result.”