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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.

Posted by on in Volunteers

The Leadership Workshop inaugural class of 2010, graduation ceremony and the giving of certificates of achievement. Front row, L to R: Sahar, Sadiqa, Mursal, Hala, Shogofa (behind Hala), Pashtana, Yasamin, Nida. Second row L to R: Lida, Farida, Manizha, Sitiza, Sosan. I have never been so proud.

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There is a song in my head this morning, one that has no name, no words, no tune. It is all songs, it is mathematical, it is inside my ear, it is what comes before nothing. It is that mid-autumn sort of thing, a day off from living, hazy, sun morning low in the sky, nothing to do. I behold because I cannot merely look or stare, the asters in the courtyard of my safety here in the center of the continuous perhaps never ending denouement of a five-part tragedy in a thirty-years war, vigorous yellow rich blooms I could eat, hundreds, and I perceive after all, life, the same life that is born and re-born when an orphan girl whose blood can trace a thin unimaginable line all the way to Ghengis Khan himself tells me she cannot play Zeus, there are too many lines, and does, when she says she cannot do the drama of Mother Courage, sacrifice one child to save another, and does, or when a second orphan scampers after a soccer ball, her impossibly long black braid trailing after her like a cord tied to the dusk of the fading sky, the ruins of Darulaman, and the full bleeding moon rising over the incisored dust-brown mountains of Kabul, or when a third orphan, tall and skinny, scribes a rendering of her name, her father’s name, the place of her birth, a village so remote as to honor the remoteness of its name, Hindu Kush, and finally her unknown make believe date of birth on a whiteboard in bright red erasable ink and tells me in her curtseyed voice it is her passport, when I ask her where in the world this conjured document will bring her, and she answers coyly, impishly, “I’m going to America…” when she does not know or even think she is one who will ever go, ever leave this trembling city, not in this story, not in this life. Now I know and cannot turn away, these are the moments that compose the song I speak of, they gradually fill my body, waiting for a day such as this to silence my fears.

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I remember my father reading to me in bed, books about the Civil War, about the history of invention and exploration. He read novels to me as well, often about families struggling to keep together in colonial times, pioneer times, adults and children having to learn from one another to survive. I remember my father’s heart, the simultaneous softness and itchiness of his sweater. Often he was still in his work clothes, a white shirt, a tie, a pullover v-neck vest, slacks and thin black socks. I remember what I think every child lucky enough to have had this experience remembers, the heartbeat and anticipation I felt radiating from my father, what we might call the joy of the reader. His fingers could not wait to turn the page, and almost always pulled the top right corner between his thumb and index finger well before finishing the last paragraph. He took pleasure in experiencing the story as much as I, even the simplest most childish of stories. It had something to do with the sharing.

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There is on occasion a moment when the universe shows itself to be a meeting point between science and magic, and that is when I dial a number of someone I have not spoken to for some time, a whim, and I discover that very person is at that very moment dialing me. Such was the case this week when I pressed the button on my mobile’s directory for Ramazan Bashardost.

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Posted by on in Volunteers

The Minister of Economics (Department of Non-Government Organizations) pushed his half moon glassed down to the end of his nose, looked me for the first time in the eyes and told me like a disinterested teacher to his un-ambitious C student that my life is more important than the volunteer work I am doing here in Afghanistan.

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