In a year when the news from Afghanistan was full of conflict, when rulers and aide agencies scrambled for explanations and solutions, when the war seemed on many fronts to stagnate or go in reverse and prospects become vague, today we feel we can be so bold as to say there is at least one solution that has been tested and is working. That is because AFCECO not only survived this tumultuous year, but also flourished: 6 new orphanages established for 300 new girls and boys and that is just the beginning. We’d like to devote this newsletter to the progress made in 2010 as a testament to the cumulative evidence that the work you and AFCECO are engaged in is in fact one model for positive change, and that if anyone is looking for answers to the short and long-term problems in Afghanistan they would do well to see what is happening in our orphanages.


We must first let you know about the progress of our girl’s soccer team. Again, the meaning and impact here cannot be overstated. This program is in effect on a level with freedom and liberty being granted to an impoverished, crushed, subservient strata of human society. The girls entered into a tournament last week and won their first three matches. One of them ended in a shoot-out to settle a tie score. Khalida bravely protected that goal and Shagofa kicked a beautifully placed ball into the top left corner against their opponent’s keeper, sealing the victory. There were hugs and cheers and tears. The girls had been so terribly nervous. This was a truly beautiful sight, like birds being released from captivity. Such a simple, little thing can easily be taken for granted around the world. Here, for a few hours, new meaning was injected into the words inspiration, courage, and joy. Bit by bit these girls are learning to believe in themselves, in the power they contain, in a future they can create. If you can just imagine these girls shuddering in your arms, tears welling up, it is not mere winning that they feel, and in turn you feel through them. It is the lifting of oppression from their lives. They ended up taking third place overall in a tournament involving all the Kabul city schools. Many teachers and coaches commented on how the Mehan Girl’s team was the most professional and organized. We congratulate them and applaud their great effort. Once again we must thank the American University of Kabul for continuing to provide use of their soccer field.


AFCECO experienced a topsy-turvy month of holding onto a sense of normalcy while so much swirled about our doorstep. There was the culmination of Ramadan, which alters everyone’s schedule including the schools. Eid brought with it a three-day celebration that ended close enough to the parliamentary elections to impel authorities to close schools an additional week and practically shut down the city itself. In the midst of this were new and exciting opportunities to attend to, while maintaining a thread of continuity through all our extracurricular programs.


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.

On October 2nd, 2010 Nadiah Orphanage officially opened in the city of Herat, in western Afghanistan. The three story home is located in a quiet neighborhood within walking distance to its sister orphanage, Hariwa. 

An opening ceremony was marked by the dedication of the orphanage to an American humanitarian, Nancy Jean Riess, its inspiration. The impetus for this partnership is a shared belief in the power of education and nurturing, in raising the whole child, and the degree to which this is the real cause for a better future. The orphanage is named for a young woman who dared seek education during the Taliban era, even though she risked her life doing it. Nadiah Anjuman studied and wrote poetry, and though she died tragically at a young age, her poetry is extensive and is heralded in every corner of Afghanistan today. The spirit of Nadia, Nancy and the mission of AFCECO come together in this one bastion of peace.

AFCECO is an Afghan non-profit organization based in Kabul running orphanages and educational centers for Afghan orphans and street children.
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