It is difficult to imagine as we are enjoying the summer heat in Australia that women and children are braving some of the coldest conditions at home in Afghanistan.

While Australians are catching waves on the beach, families in Afghanistan are bracing themselves for waves of avalanches to hit the mountainous regions as the winter progresses. Many Afghan families occupy the hilly terrain of the nation during the harsh winter months because of wartime displacement and extreme poverty preventing their occupation of city centres.

Habitation of these regions leaves women and children vulnerable to unpredictable weather conditions including avalanches and snow blizzards that can make living conditions unsustainable. Just last winter the Panjshir Valley, where Mahboba’s Promise Hope House orphanage is located was hit by 40 avalanches, killing 310 people and wounding 129. As one of the poorest countries in the world Afghanistan is hit hardest by winter. Respiratory infections are the leading cause of death in the nation, with children at greater risk of developing breathing difficulties as temperatures drop. With winter weather conditions expected to worsen in 2016 Mahboba’s Promise is concerned for the safety and livelihood of the women and children it supports.

While Mahboba’s Promise does not presume to control Afghanistan’s climate of extremes, it can help to ease the bitter chill felt by Afghan families through funds received through its annual Winter Appeal. Mahboba’s Promise winter appeal not only funds the provision of warm clothes and snug blankets but also charcoal, an essential source of heat for family homes in Afghanistan. We are already beginning to see the positive effects of the first few shipments of warm winter clothes received by orphans at Kabul’s Hope House this year. The bright smiles on the children’s faces as they try on the clothes for the first time, was a delight. What shines through the children’s smiles is their gratefulness to possess items of clothing that are uniquely theirs and will keep them warm throughout the winter months. The orphan boys of Hope House wear the thermal tracksuits generously donated by Sydney’s Waverley college with a sense of pride and belonging that can only be instilled by wearing a school uniform. The children’s reaction is testament to the positive effects schooling has on the lives of the orphans provided education through Hope House.

After having recently visited Afghanistan Mahboba expressed her disheartenment with the bitterly cold conditions faced by so many impoverished women and children in need. In a letter issued via the Mahboba’s Promise blog page, Mahboba made a plea to her supporters to take a moment to consider the profound effect the basics we take for granted including a heat source and warm clothes can have on the lives of Afghan families. Despite the acknowledgement that much more needs to be done, Mahboba was inspired by the warmth and good health of the orphans at hope house. In her letter, Mahboba conveyed her appreciation for funding received by donors this holiday season that has helped spread the Australian warmth all the way to Afghanistan. Mahboba’s Promise dedicated staff and volunteers continue to be inspired by the overwhelming degree support the organisation receives and will continue to push for greater change and progress in the region.