Child Spotlight is meant to bring you closer to the people whose family as a sponsor you will in their minds become a part of. Their stories are wide and varied. They are often full of heartache but also determination to prevail. Afghanistan, as the ancient crossroads or “heart” of Asia is multicultural. The people represent bloodlines from Macedonia to Shanghai, from Moscow to New Delhi. Within these differences is found the core of AFCECO’s potential effect upon Afghan society: the strength of diversity.
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Child Spotlight 2011: Farzana Noori
Farzana Noori is a fourteen-year old girl who came to Mehan orphanage five years ago. In many ways she is a girl twice orphaned. When she was just a baby she lost her natural parents during the later stages of the civil war between the Mujahidin factions and the surging Taliban. A poverty-stricken couple in Kabul adopted her, but the reason for this adoption had only to do with the pressure families had put on them to have children when they could not. It was difficult to attach. This couple could not afford food and shelter for more than the two of them. When they discovered AFCECO it was a blessing, as they had little room in their lives for a growing girl. Farzana has a strong independent streak that has to do with her having to overcome many obstacles. She is striking in her looks, and people often comment that she could be in the movies. It is no coincidence she has excelled in drama club. She prepares for rehearsals like a pro, and takes her position very seriously. She is artistic as well, and has shown great poise when put on the spot in front of strangers.
Family Spotlight 2010: Ali & Khala Parri
Ali and his younger brother were ten and seven when their father began to show signs of dementia. Their lives had always been miserably poor. They lived in Farah Province, close to Iran and in the middle of a drug trade route. But when their father changed, things went from bad to worse. He took to drugs, and then to beating his wife Perry. When finally he disappeared completely, the boys and their mother found themselves in a tremendously difficult position. Khala Parri couldn’t even re-marry, and had no way to take care of her boys or provide even basic needs. Ali took to working in the streets, pulling in some bread here, a few Afghanis there. Parri began to experience blackouts, and considered suicide.
Child Spotlight 2009: Farzana
Farzana was five when Taliban forces along with Arabs and Pakistani militants raided Yakaolong, a district in Bamyan province that is home to the Hazara minority. It was January of 2001, the Taliban’s grip was as strong as ever. The marauders of Yakaolong were following the decree of their spiritual leader, Mullah Omar, who had ordered them to “Behead all men whose age is greater than 12, let it be a warning lesson for the Sadat and Hazara survivors of the Yakaolang.” And they did with mighty cruelty, beheading over 300 men on one day, including Farzana’s father and many of her relatives.
Child Spotlight 2008: Mahbooba
Mahbooba, whose name means “loved one” in Farsi, came to Watan Orphanage when she was seven years old, and immediately melted the hearts not only of her friends but also of her entire school with her extraordinary talents and admirable conduct. Mahbooba is from Nooristan, a remote area by the Himalayan Mountains that, according to analysts is the most backward area in Afghanistan. The orphanage was entirely alien to Mahbooba. She could speak neither Farsi nor Pushto (the common languages in Afghanistan), had never even seen indoor plumbing, a car, let alone picked up a pencil. Her father had had a plan for her, the same plan most every young girl must submit to: be sold into marriage to an older and most likely abusive man. But when the opportunity came to send one of his daughters to AFCECO, something inside of him rose to the occasion: a deep respect for education.