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Ian Pounds with AFCECO Children

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Ian Pounds

In 2009, Ian Pounds spent five months living and working as a volunteer in Mehan Orphanage in Kabul. It is an experience which affected him deeply. Those of us who followed his weekly journal were moved, educated and inspired. We came away with a much richer understanding of the workings of the orphanages and the world of our sponsored children.

Now, Ian is back in Afghanistan, once again volunteering with AFCECO at the Kabul orphanages. He will continue his journal and we will feature his posts here on Hope for Afghan Children.

I hope you will join those of us who already make it a habit to sit down with a cup of tea or coffee each weekend while we read Ian’s latest installment.

It was just as we were rolling down the highway through Richmond, Virginia I noticed a car driving alongside the Magic Freedom Bus, and a woman waving wildly and pointing to her cel phone. I thought perhaps something was wrong with the bus but the phone didn’t make sense. Then I realize she was indicating I should turn my phone on. As soon as I did it buzzed. I answered and the young college student implored me to pull over so she and her company could meet the children. They had read the sign on the back of the bus and put two and two together, since it was her mother’s sister from Venice, Florida who had told them about us and that we intended to visit Venice. It also turns out that the mother and aunt are cousins to Ahmad Zahir, the most famous Afghan singer and songwriter who had died tragically in the Eighties (and my musical hero in Afghanistan).

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Posted by on in Volunteers

Parking Magic Freedom (My name for the bus) in downtown Baltimore was not exactly a cinch. After dropping of the children and Nasrin at the offices of IYF I circled the one-way streets until one open-air lot seemed promising. As I pulled up to the ticket station an attendant walked toward the bus with an alarmed look on his face and shaking his head side to side. I lowered my window and held my words. I simply gave him a look. I knew the magnetic sign I had placed on the driver’s side door would do the talking for me: “Afghan Orphanage Children’s Tour of America” with a photo of the children outside Mehan. This sign had already produced some results at one of the many toll booths on the way south, whereupon the worker got out his pen and pad and wrote down the web site displayed at the bottom and stuck out his hand and looked me in the eyes. “God bless you,” he said. Now the sign had caught the parking attendant’s attention. He tried to ward me off. “No way man.”

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Leaving my brother's home in New Hampshire was bitter sweet. All the children had found it to be as much their home, but the excitement of embarking on the Magic Freedom Bus for the first leg of our journey was overwhelming. I popped a CD into the stereo and Ahmad Zahir filled the bus with our favorite melodies from Afghanistan. A few turns and we were on the highway going west toward Albany, NY. The open road, six children from an Afghan orphanage, their chaperone from Farah province and their teacher from Vermont had begun an adventure of a lifetime, something I doubt has been done quite this way ever before.

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As we pulled into the Moturis rental company north of Boston, I saw the name for the RV, random perhaps or perhaps written to be, is "Freedom". The two boys Mohsan and Araj were with me, and my brother Stephen. The supervisor of the company outlet, a woman my age named Linda asked what I was planning to do, a little alarmed after noting I would put almost 10,000 miles on her truck. "I'm traveling the country with six children from the orphanage in Afghanistan where I've been a volunteer for the past three years."

Linda's eyes lit up, then welled up with tears. "I'm giving you the travel packets. And don't thank me, thank you."

Linda saved us $550. And so the journey begins.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Kathy says #
    Can't wait to see you all. Let us know what you what to eat, see, and do during your short visit with us in North Carolina. I know
  • Cathy says #
    Can't wait to see you in Washington DC!!
  • Elizabeth BRadt says #
    We were so impressed with the children's presentations at Salem Rotary. You have had a huge effect on us and I wish you a wonderf

Posted by on in Volunteers

By now most of you should know the details of the big Talent Show at the New Learning Center, as well as the unsavory experience with the Members of Parliament. So here I am going to move on.



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