When IAM started its work in 1966, the government requested us to focus on eye care. IAM has been heavily involved in the eye care sector right up to the present.
The International Afghan Mission (IAM) was established in Kabul, on February 2, 1966. It began from the efforts of teachers and medical specialists who were interested in working in Afghanistan. IAM’s first projects were the National Organisation for Ophthalmic Rehabilitation (NOOR), the Medical Assistance Program (MAP), a school for the visually impaired (BINA), and a literacy programme. Over the next 50 years, more projects were added in engineering, maternal health, community development, English as a Foreign Language (EFL), disaster management, micro-enterprise development, mental health, and the study of languages. IAM trains Afghans in all of these roles.
First the war with the Soviet Union, then strife between local Mujahideen groups, and then changes in government required the moving or closing of some projects at various times since 1966. In 1978, the International Afghan Mission changed its name to the International Assistance Mission.
In August 2001, the Taliban expelled IAM from Afghanistan. One month later, due to the imminent attack from the USA following September 11, 2001; the Taliban expelled all aid groups from Afghanistan. After the fall of the Taliban, IAM was invited to return. This three-month period in 2001 is the only time that IAM has not served in Afghanistan since 1966.
In November 2008, the Deputy Minister of Economy, Dr Nazir Ahmad, thanked IAM for more than 40 years of humanitarian work in Afghanistan. Since 1966, IAM has helped over five million Afghans, particularly through its NOOR eye care work.
Ten members of an IAM Eye Camp team, including several doctors, were murdered in August 2010 in the Afghan province of Badakhshan. They were killed by unknown gunmen after returning from Nuristan where they had been providing eye care, maternal health care and dentistry.