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Getting involved...

Sponsor a Child

Help us to bring a new child to the orphanage

Make a Donation

Make one-time donation to help us sustain orphanage

Founding Sponsorship

Becoming a founding sponsor of a new orphanage in Afghanistan

 

 

Interviews

Volunteer: Ian Pounds

Why volunteer, why Afghanistan, and why with AFCECO?

You might say it was a midlife crisis, but it involved the state of the world as much as my own desire to feel useful. I poked my head up and looked around: things in the world looked bleak in 2006, not the least of which was a seemingly endless war with countries that I and apparently most people in America knew nothing about. Iraq was the big news at the time. I guess that’s why I gravitated to the somewhat secretive war in south-central Asia. I’m an educator and counselor; I love kids, so this is what I had to offer the people of Afghanistan. I spent a year rearranging my life. Then I found what I was looking for, Afghans helping Afghans. I wanted to serve their cause, not mine.

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Meeting a sponsor: Doffie Rotter

Interview with Doffie Rotter

You began with sponsoring one child, then three, then ten and now you sponsor an entire orphanage in Jalalabad. What moved you so, to keep increasing your involvement with AFCECO?

Working with and for AFCECO is different from any other “helping” experience I’ve had in my life. From the start and right up to the present, the personal relationships I’ve enjoyed with these children have brought me joy and a sense of certainty that I can truly make a difference in their lives. Sharing letters and photos brings us closer and closer over time; I can see them learn, grow, and change over time and they so enjoy my sharing my life and family with them. They are “my children” and I am “their Doffie.” How could I not want to do everything I can to help them live healthy and productive lives in a war-torn country that will need their skills and courage for years to come?

Doffie Rotter, a retired professor of psychology at the University of Connecticut is considered "Mom" of AFCECO. She has been around from the begining, sponsoring one then 10 children, and now a new orphanage, Spogmay Orphanage in Jalalabad. The library at Mehan Orphanage is dedicated to her efforts, as is the health of the children who received their immunizations, or even their warmth in winter when firewood was needed.

What are some of the struggles you have faced as a sponsor?

The hardest, no, the cruelest, part of being a sponsor has been “losing” some of my sponsored children. Some have been forced to return to their families to help relatives who were ill or disabled. Some have simply disappeared, and my very realistic fear is that the girls have been sold into marriage because their families need the money to survive. I think about these lost children often. One such story has a happy ending. Afsana, the first child I sponsored, was in an orphanage in Pakistan. She and her family returned to Afghanistan, to Farah, the heart of Taliban country. The school Afsana attended was closed and, for a while, the whole family disappeared. I feared the worst, but Jamshid tracked them down near Herat and Afsana and I, once again, exchanged letters.

Tell us about one of your children, and about your relationship.

Maria is a very special person in my life. Now a young woman, I have seen her grow perhaps more than any of the children I love. What defines Maria is heart, determination, and ambition. When we first met, she knew very little English. But, even then, her letters showed her drive and curiosity. These days, we write long, juicy letters, telling each other what we are doing and thinking. Recently Maria’s mother came to the orphanage and tried to persuade her to come home, get married, and give up all this crazy education stuff. Maria absolutely refused! There is something strong and determined inside this sweet and loving girl, and that makes her very special.