In Focus: LA Art Benefit For Skateistan

On March 31, 2013, Los Angeles artists and the skate community are coming together at Nomad Collective Art Compound to raise money and awareness for Skateistan, an International non-profit charity providing skateboarding & educational programming in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Cambodia.

Along the edge of the old Russian pool on Bibimaru Hill, Kabul.

The NGO founded by Aussie pro-skater Oliver Percovich in Kabul is dedicated to building a better future for hundreds of thousands of kids who, brought together through their passion for skateboarding, are empowered to thrive in a functioning school teaching subjects from creative arts to economics.

The mission also includes skateboard aid projects and skateparks for Cambodian youth, a grassroots street-level program in Pakistan, and a state-of-the-art learning / skateboarding centre in Mazar-e-Sharif, Northern Afghanistan. Skateistan has been named in position 85 of the Global Journal’s Top 100 NGOs 2013 and is also featured as one of the most promising new NGOs worldwide.

Skateistan boys ollie into the deep end.

Over 50% of their students are street working children, and as they explain: “Skateboarding is simply “the hook” for engaging with hard-to-reach young people (ages 5-18). Skateistan’s development aid programs work with growing numbers of marginalized youth through skateboarding, and provide them with new opportunities in cross-cultural interaction, education, and personal empowerment programs.”

SKATEISTAN: TO LIVE AND SKATE KABUL from Diesel New Voices on Vimeo.

Skating towards the Pashtun Bazaar.

Bird street, in Kabul.

Heart of Kabul.

Skateistan, the book.

Another cool stat: 40% of their students are girls. If I asked you which country has the highest rate of female skateboarders out of any country in the world, it’s unlikely that your first guess would be Afghanistan, where girls are technically not even allowed to ride a bike! You’re going to love this video:

Afghanistan’s Girl Skaters – Kabul 2012 from Skateistan on Vimeo.

Girls skate time in the Mekroyan fountain.

A girl cruises solo through the fountain.

So, $100 gets the organization how far?

“In some ways, it is difficult to specify in a war torn region exact dollar amounts for what will get you what. It is an ever evolving figure. Some things that are extremely cheap here in the U.S. are very pricey there (like an internet connection and craft supplies like felt and pipe-cleaner) and vice versa,” the team explains. Here’s a breakdown of where the money raised on Sunday’s event will be going:

– Food to feed the children in our Back to School Program.  This runs around $2/student /day
– Pay staff members – you could pay for almost a month’s salary for some workers
– Pay for office supplies and overhead – pay for one semester of one class’s supplies
– Gas for the school van
– Repairs – there are harsh winters AND summers in Afghanistan. Oftentimes the A/C and heating units are cheaply made knockoff from China (it’s VERY expensive to get the real deal) so maintenance costs can quickly and unexpectedly eat up the budget.
– Special events – they must barter with local sellers to get rugs, chairs, speakers, etc during Open House events for the community.

Tamana Rozudin

Let’s keep Skateistan rolling! We’ve partnered up with Simjee Textor to help curate some of the artwork donations and we are getting some gems! See you on Sunday!

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