Read our interview with Country Manager, Nadia Soto De Avila, to learn more about what Ascend has planned this year.
Q. What exciting things does 2019 have in store for Ascend?
A. Our 2019 programming year is jam packed! This year, we are continuing to do all of our usual activities such as, yoga, fitness training, rock climbing, leadership training, and of course, mountaineering. This year, we will be embarking on 6 expeditions, instead of the usual 5. Building on our successes from last year, we are adding a more enhanced component of psychosocial wellbeing. We are also introducing a mentorship program and female role model lecture series.
Q. What is the mentorship program and why are you introducing this to the 2019 program?
A. We will select women from around the world to provide one-on-one mentorship and guidance to our participants. We will be matching mentors to individuals based on their interests and aspirations. The mentorship program will inspire the 2019 participants and lead to them expanding their network and hopefully lead to future opportunities for the girls.
Q. What is the new female role model lecture series?
A. The female role model lecture series will be a monthly activity in which a strong Afghan female leader will come and give a motivational talk to the girls. Ranging from teachers to parliament members, these women will have successfully overcome adversity and will inspire the Ascend participants.
Q. What expeditions are planned for the 2019 course?
Each of our 6 expeditions have a core focus ranging from an 'introduction to rock climbing' to an 'advanced mountaineering expedition.' Participants will travel to all corners of Afghanistan and will sleep in the wild from 2 to 27 days.
Q. How are the participants selected?
A. This year, we delivered awareness sessions in local schools and community based centers. Interested girls will apply via an application form and shortlisted candidates will be invited for a panel interview with senior Ascend management. During the panel interview, we assess the girls motivation and look for an interest and curiosity in mountaineering and outdoor activities. We also interview the girls parents to ensure that they understand the commitment and accept their daughter participating in an athletic based activities.
Q. This all sounds great! How can I get involved?
A. There are so many ways for people to get involved! If you're a mountaineering instructor and would like to volunteer your expertise in Afghanistan, we'd love to hear from you (you can get in touch via the contact page). If you're interested in fundraising, you can host a film screening of HBOs, 'Ascending Afghanistan' and even arrange a live Skype call with the participants! Or you can donate via our donate button on the website. It all helps to ensure we can continue to empower our Afghan girls!