Calls for prayer ahead of presidential elections in Afghanistan
Tearfund is asking Christians to pray for continued stability and international commitment in Afghanistan ahead of presidential elections on Saturday.
Afghans will head to the polls for the third presidential elections since the fall of the Taliban in 2001 and the Christian development agency is hoping that the coming year will see opportunities continue to open up for the people.
"It is proving to be a long road towards peace for the people, many of whom still bear the scars of over three decades of conflict, and an uncertain future lies ahead," said Bruce Clark, who oversees Tearfund's work in Afghanistan.
"We're asking people to pray with us that during this challenging year, Afghanistan will see continued international commitment and stability, and that opportunities will improve for many more people, just as they have for Mariam."
Tearfund has been working in Afghanistan since the early 1970s and three of its partner organisations are helping Afghans, especially women and girls, to read.
Educational attainment remains low in Afghanistan and only 12.6 per cent of women are able to read.
In addition to literacy programmes, Tearfund is running self-help groups, literacy classes, small business training, and programmes to improve sanitation and hygiene.
Learning to read and write is crucial in allowing people to benefit from health and hygiene advice, and it has also enabled over a thousand participants in the classes to find new ways of earning an income.
The partner organisation has set up six home-based mobile libraries and one library in a local market that is especially popular with women.
One of the adults to have benefited from the literacy programme is a woman called Mariam - whose real name has been changed for security reasons. Her mother was a widow with three daughters and the family relied on support from Mariam's uncles to survive.
Mariam completed a literacy course in her village and went on to train as a literacy teacher.
She continues to work as a teacher and earns additional income through assisting a humanitarian agency that operates in her village.
"We're very happy that my salary helps us to solve our family problems ourselves," Mariam said.
"It also makes me happy that I'm now able to help my neighbours with my knowledge.
"Our life has become very good."