Saturday, August 11, 2007

Sunday, July 8, 2007

This is our AFSC school in Niyak, a remote village in the North of Bamiyan Province.

I always love seeing the pictures of our schools, the students, teachers and community members. It is so obvious that there is a great sense of pride and accomplishment in all their faces.

In early June, Matine and Mirwise traveled to Topchee and Niyak. Niyak is quite isolated and about five hours beyond Bamiyan. Matine with Mirwis's assistance delivered our 12 day psycho-social training for teacher in Niyak. Of course the students wanted to be part of the letter exchange with the US so Mirwise brought back many letters and small handicraft gifts from Niyak as well as Topchee.

We do a lot of group exercises in our workshop which helps keep participants involved and having some fun while exploring new ideas.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

lessons in translation...

My wife, Marnie, also runs an NGO called PARSA. We have been collaborating on a few projects including PARSA's work at the Allhuaddin orphanage here in Kabul. They too have an exchange program going on between the kids here and students in the US. A very extraordinary young woman of 16 named Anoosha has been translating letters between the orphans and their pen pals. I just want to share with all of you an email we received from Anoosha:

My opinion about the letter exchanging process

Through the last months I have been exchanging letters between American children and Afghan orphans which is one of the most (felt) experiencing works in my life. I came to know through this process what these children think. Many of them really do care about other's happiness. For example in her letter Carly said to her pen pal “always remember that there is hope for you in life and that you are being heard by people”. Even Blake a 12 year old American girl said to her 8 year old pen pal Shabana “I think what we can really do about the war in Iraq is to stop killing to make our point” . Sally, because of a problem she couldn’t get her pen pal’s mails, so she was really worried and she said in her letter to her pen pal” I couldn’t write because of a problem; don’t think that I am not interested in writing to you.” This means that these children really do care about other's happiness.

When I read letters to the orphans they listen carefully and think how different things are in the U.S and Afghanistan and how the American children have lots of opportunities in life. As one of the kids, Jon, said in his letter. ” I really don’t know what I wish to be in the future because there are lots of possibilities in life.”

I think that exchanging letters is one of the ways to exchange thoughts, ideas and imaginations with which we can promote the orphans to think about themselves and the others and how to use opportunities in life so that they can be assured of a secure future.

Anoosha Wahidi
Kabul, June 2007

Friday, June 15, 2007

Visiting Topchee school and Bamiyan Province

Topchee village is about 20 minutes drive, though only 7 or 8 miles from the town of Bamiyan, home to the giant Buddha statues that were destroyed by the Taliban 2001. The village and our school are across the river from another ancient and amazing site. “Shar-i-Zohak”, often called “the red city” is an ancient citadel on top of the red cliffs that tower more than 500 ft. above the valley floor. this site probably dates from the 7th century or earlier, part of what is known as the Ghorid Empire. The same people who built the minaret of Ghor and legendary golden city. This civilization which lasted many centuries was destroy by the armies of Ghengis Khan in the early part of the 11th century. The descendants of these armies that swept out of the Northern plains of central Asia are probably the ancestors of the majority “Hazara” ethnic group of Bamiyan province and our sister school children in Topchee. You can see in some of the pictures how “oriental” the faces of some of the children are. The cave monasteries of the Buddhist people that made the giant Buddha statues date back even further. This area was a major spiritual center for Buddhists from China and across Southern Asia almost two thousand years ago.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Topchee School in Bamyan Province

Here are some pictures of our school in Topchee and the kids who are the ongoing focus or our “shcool 2 school” exchange. The younger children, up to grade 5 attend the school in the morning and the upper classes to grade 7 are in school in the afternoon.

The last three pictures here are of the damaged cistern and water supply for the school. I am posting these images as I believe this to be the most cirtical need for the school at this time. Mirwise and Matin will be back in a few days and hopefully they will have an estimate of what it will cost to renew the water supply and cistern.