AFCECO Newsletter: August 2009
Dear Friends of AFCECO orphanages,
While the children of Jalalabad and Pakistan orphanages are on summer break, for the children of our Kabul and Herat orphanages the month of July was dominated by the preparation for and taking of mid-term exams. We anticipate the results with great hope that even though the New Learning Center * has only been up and running for three months, there will be significant signs that the NLC programs have already strengthened many of the students’ academic standing.
This month is Ramadan, and the public schools are closed. That means we have more flexibility and time to involve the children grades 9 through 12 in even more skill building activities. Though they will continue with their core studies tutorial classes, their specialized music and art classes, their soccer and karate and boxing programs, in addition the children will organize a major exhibition to be performed in September. This will resemble in many ways the old AFCECO “art party”, but we are going to take it to some new levels of performance in drama, music, speeches and contests in debate, historical trivia and poetry. We are also thinking ahead to a possible fundraising tour in the U.S. this winter, which we hope will include some of our children performing as part of each event. As the students’ skills develop, we understand the intrinsic value of public performance, on a variety of levels.
This month we were honored to host at the NLC, two performances by Mashal Arman. She is visiting from her home in Switzerland, where she has been for some years a professional singer of classical librettos. She is also the daughter of the greatest Afghan singer, Ustad Arman. For the first concert Mashal performed a selection of well-known operatic pieces, accompanied by Italian pianist Adriana Mascoli who teaches at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music. In her second performance Mashal played harmonium, accompanied by our own music faculty on tabla and rabab, singing some folkloric Afghan songs. What these concerts are to the children is like the wind of worldliness blowing through an open doorway. You could see it on their glowing, gaping, smiling faces as they experienced this level of performance, this kind of music for the very first time. Not only that, but here was an Afghan woman virtuoso. This is exactly what we envisioned when we set out to establish a learning center, not only a school, but a meeting place of talented speakers, artists, musicians, dancers and filmmakers, as well as screenings of classic films and even great sporting events broadcast live, such as the World Cup soccer. We envisioned a vibrant place the children will never, ever forget. Remember, most Afghans have never even seen a piano before, let alone played one. For the rest of their lives the children will reflect back upon these years and the variety of experiences they had at the NLC. Such experiences can never, ever be stolen away, undone or otherwise diminished by whatever suppressing forces might persist in Afghan society. Freedom of expression, exchange of ideas, building character, confidence and solid life skills and above all falling in love with learning are the cornerstones of AFCECO’s educational mission. These concerts are just another example of the steps we are taking in that direction. Thank you so much, Mashal, for giving us such ineffable memories.
We must give a very special thank you to Richard Riess, a good friend and sponsor who recently gifted a significant sum of money to alleviate this year’s budget deficit. If it were not for his great trust and generosity we would be in serious straights. Now we have time to do some major fundraising over the next six months, to offset the same deficit issue we will face next year. We are calling upon you and all our friends here and abroad, to help us in finding ways to achieve that goal.
All our best wishes, and a great big thank you from the now almost 700 children growing and thriving the AFCECO way.
Sincerely yours, The AFCECO staff Website:www.afceco.org Blog by Ian Pounds:http://joomtest.afceco.org/index.php/ Facebook:http://www.facebook.com/AFCECOChildren YouTube:http://www.youtube.com/afcecochildren Flickr:http://www.flickr.com/photos/afceco