40 Jahre Hilfe zur Selbsthilfe: Hilfe für afghanische Flüchtlinge

40 years of Help

On July 15, 1981, members of all parties represented in the Bundestag at the time, as well as personalities from academia and the church, gathered at Frankfurt Airport. Their goal: to help the millions of people who were displaced as a result of the Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan. Together they founded the aid organization "Help – Hilfe zur Selbsthilfe".

More than 40 years later, Help, with almost 500 employees in over 20 countries, is committed to enabling disadvantaged people to live in dignity, security and self-determination. Because even though a lot has changed since the organization was founded, one thing still guides our actions today as it did then: helping people to help themselves.

It all started with Afghanistan

At the beginning of the 1980s, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan triggered the largest refugee movement since the Second World War: More than three million people were forced to flee to neighboring countries, where they were housed in makeshift, inhumane refugee camps.

On July 15, 1981, "Help – Hilfe zur Selbsthilfe" was founded at Frankfurt Airport to help the war-torn Afghans. The foundation was also Help's first aid campaign: That very evening, an airplane flew to Pakistan with vital relief supplies.

Help was supported by the Verein für afghanische Flüchtlingshilfe e.V. (VAF) for the implementation of aid measures on the ground.

The aid is growing

Over the next few years, Help intensified its emergency aid for Afghan refugees in Pakistan, initially under the motto "Germans help Afghanistan". The newly founded association was involved in the distribution of relief supplies, financed schools and training centers and strengthened medical care. In 1983, aid was extended to Iran.

True to the principle of "helping people to help themselves", Help also promoted vocational training for refugees: Women and men were introduced to skilled trades so that they could build a new livelihood.

At the beginning of the 1990s, Help set new priorities and launched aid projects in eleven other countries. The focus was on combating hunger in Zimbabwe and emergency aid for war victims in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Rudolf Bindig

It is impressive to be able to follow the development of Help so closely. From a small organization with aid projects for Afghan refugees to a globally operating humanitarian aid organization with an annual project volume of around 30 million euros.

Rudolf Bindig, former Chairman

Struck by natural disasters

In 2001, Help was a founding member of Aktion Deutschland Hilft. Together, we were there when a severe tsunami hit parts of South and Southeast Asia in 2004, leaving coastal regions in ruins.

Emergency aid started on the same day and support continued years later with investments in the construction of tsunami- and earthquake-proof houses.

Emergency aid was also provided after the earthquake in Kashmir in 2005 and the floods in Bangladesh in 2007. In the Middle East, Help began to strengthen the water supply and in the Sahel region, mothers and children were supported with food and medical care.

Recipe for success: Empowerment

The last decade began with the devastating earthquake in Haiti, after which Help not only supported reconstruction efforts but also sent a medical team for emergency operations.

In the following years, Help supported the Japanese population after the severe tsunami in 2011, provided emergency aid in the civil war in Syria and helped refugees along the Balkan route.

We were able to celebrate a particular success in Burkina Faso in 2016: after years of effort on Help's part, the government introduced free healthcare for children under five and pregnant and breastfeeding women.

The parliamentarians' aid organization

Help still breathes the parliamentary spirit of its founding today. Members of all democratic parties represented in the Bundestag are represented on the board of the "parliamentarians' aid organization" and volunteer their time to help people in need - regardless of origin, faith or ideology.

Today, Help's work is shaped by new crises and conflicts: Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, we have stepped up our efforts to promote hygiene and healthcare in our project countries, support reconstruction efforts following the floods in Germany and provide emergency aid for those affected by the war in Ukraine

Help that keeps giving

40 years of Help – that's four decades of helping people to help themselves. We would like to thank all our companions, donors, partners and donors for their loyal support along the way. Together we have achieved a great deal – and together we look to the future with hope.

The need for humanitarian aid and development cooperation is growing, but we will continue to do everything we can to help people in need to live in dignity and self-determination. Support us in this – with your donation!

[Translate to English:] 40 Jahre Hilfe zur Selbsthilfe: Nothilfe in Afghanistan
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