ACAA was established in 2001 by Dr Nooralhaq Nasimi, who left Afghanistan with his young family in 1999. Dr Nasimi wanted to help other refugees, so he began organising cultural events and day trips for the Afghan community in London. Since then, the organisation has flourished and since developed into a vibrant organisation working to free refugees and newcomers from the isolating feelings which can come with migration.
The Afghanistan and Central Asia Association works with Afghans and Central Asians living away from their homeland, providing the support, skills and knowledge to live and prosper in the UK.
Our services include English language classes, employment workshops, a women’s support group, a Saturday school and homework club, youth and family support services, drop-in and telephone advice, volunteer placements, and cultural and social events. The organisation also visits individuals and families in detention.
In Afghanistan, we are developing citizens advice centres in Kabul and Pul-e Khumri after a successful pilot project ran from 2013 to 2016 offering free, impartial and confidential advice, information, support and legal aid on issues including education, employment and domestic violence.
The vision of the Afghanistan and Central Asian Association is fair treatment for all refugees who enter the UK. We seek improved quality of life for refugees, including successful integration into their host countries, improved human rights in the Afghan diaspora and in Afghanistan itself. All of ACAA’s projects, from the citizen advice centres in Afghanistan to the homework clubs and Saturday schools in Lewisham, seek to achieve this.
This commitment stems from my own journey: I arrived in the UK in 1999 as a refugee unable to speak a word of English. While studying English at Lewisham College, the challenges I faced as a refugee trying to integrate into British society motivated me to action. I founded ACAA in 2001 to focus on the needs that I felt were unfulfilled when I first arrived. Equipped with a law degree from Southbank University, I was determined to make a more meaningful contribution to improving the quality of life for refugees in the UK and for the people of Afghanistan. Ever since, ACAA has worked to advance this mission in areas from education to employment and social cohesion.
Though we have achieved much, there is still much to do. With the support of people across the UK and in Afghanistan and Central Asia, I am confident that ACAA can continue to go from strength to strength.
Dr Nooralhaq Nasimi