AFCECO Newsletter: September 2010
Dear Friends of AFCECO orphanages,
The first thing we should let you know as the tragedy in Pakistan continues to unfold is that our two orphanages there are safe and secure. They are fortunate to be situated outside the flood zone, and as children prepare for the beginning of their school year life will proceed for them normally. We are in close touch with our friends there, and watch the news along with the rest of the world as we hope for a sign that relief will come soon to the millions who are suffering there. This month we received a ten-day visit from Paul Stevers, President of Charity Help International and long-time friend of AFCECO. Paul got to see first hand all the new developments in our Kabul orphanages, as well as to pursue some ideas he has about helping ordinary Afghans who are isolated from resources that could improve their lives. As ever we are thankful for having such a partner who has made it possible for us to have an expansive worldwide network of friends and sponsors to send this newsletter to.
On August 19th, 1919 King Amanullah signed the Treaty of Rawalpindi, guaranteeing Afghan independence from Britain. Celebrating this day is especially important at AFCECO orphanages, and this year we really did it up. Three weeks of preparation culminating in an outdoor, three hour extravaganza, under a canopy where the audience including members of the public could relax with a breeze floating through while being protected from the hot afternoon sun. Children held contests in poetry composition (boys against girls) and short answers. Boys won the poetry by a hair, but the girls won short answers. Then there were presentations of poetry in Pashto, Dari and English, including one recital of Hamlet’s famous speech “What a piece of work is man”. The drama group presented a one act Afghan version of Prometheus (Un)Bound by the famous Greek tragedian Aeschylus. Children performed several patriotic songs, and there were exhibitions of gymnastics and martial arts. The sunset brought a feast to break Roza (fasting), a perfect end to a day of hope for the future of Afghanistan.
This month was a boon for us in that the U.S. soldiers who visited last month made more than good on their promise to deliver some items of need to the new orphanages. They overwhelmed us with goods, including 27 computers, freezer, televisions, educational aides, toys, clothes, school supplies, and on and on an on. A number of occasions seven or eight members of the U.S. Army spent an afternoon with the children of Sitara I and II. It was a thrill for them as much as for the children, opening boxes and exploring the use of language learning CD players and harmonicas and playing games. To see these uniformed warriors on their knees, smiling ear to ear as the children vied for their attention, took them by the hand to show them around their orphanage was something to always remember.
The boon continued when one of our platinum sponsors, Richard Riess contacted us in hopes that he could finance the opening of yet another new orphanage in Herat. He wanted to do this in honor of his wife and her humanitarian spirit. This is doubly remarkable to us, not only for the chance to provide for so many children we had to “waitlist” after the first Herat orphanage filled up, but for the contrast of a man thus honoring his wife while women in Afghanistan by and large still live as second class citizens under the thumb of fundamentalist oppression. We immediately undertook steps to find a good home for this new orphanage, and invite you our sponsors to spread the word to any interested parties that there is a growing list of children who are in need of sponsorship.
Finally we welcome the arrival of our new volunteer, Angela Nibler. She hails from Idaho, and is already in full swing, teaching English to Sitara II boys and the younger girls at Mehan, as well as computer skills and for all the girls of Mehan, Karate. We are hopeful that for the foreseeable future we have at least one long term volunteer at any given quarter of the year, to broaden the children’s experience and broaden the AFCECO family.
Our deepest most sincere and humble thanks to the soldiers from the new Kabul base, to Mr. Riess, Goldman Sachs and Angela and to all of you who give and give and give. To sustain this movement for real and lasting change in Afghanistan, to spread the tenets of equality and peace, to give these children a foundation from which they can and will one day lead the way, we cannot take anything for granted, we must continue to establish a deeper and broader platform that would if it had to withstand the hardest of times.