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 establishment of our second orphanage in Herat has been a tremendously exciting (and unexpected) undertaking this month. We are so fortunate to have a great benefactor in Mister Reiss who in honor of his wife Nancy unconditionally submitted the funds necessary to pursue a new parwarishga. (Parwarishga is a Farsi word that can only be translated as “foster haven”.) Not only this, but a fully equipped library and gym! The new home is located just a few minutes from Hariwa orphanage. The children have been selected and moved into their new environment this week. There was an official inauguration of the opening of the orphanage yesterday, attended by local dignitaries including the Minister of Social Affairs and a representative of the local human rights organization. Many of the children come from nearby Farah Province, arguably the poorest province in Afghanistan. The girls and boys, equally represented, range in age from six to ten. They are like fledglings, a unique blend of excitement, anticipation, joy and a little bit of fear of the unknown. It will be a great satisfaction to watch them grow, as the world expands before their very own eyes.

Our present benefactors in the U.S. Army, Chaplain Nicholas and his team, in anticipation of the end of their tour in Afghanistan had much they wanted to accomplish before leaving. Boxes and boxes of supplies kept streaming in. AFCECO now has a computer training program in all five of its Kabul orphanages, and enough notebooks, markers, and other school supplies to last a year. It was a tearful goodbye, as Nicholas and his unit, men and women, had grown attached to the children, especially the little ones of Sitara I. We wish them well as they return to their homes, and their gift will continue giving for months and years to come. We are happy to announce that their commitment does not end with their departure. A whole new unit has followed in their footsteps.

Meanwhile our director Andeisha found herself on a plane again, this time to attend a Vital Voices summit in India, celebrating the accomplishments of women from around the world. As soon as she returned from this event, Andeisha immediately prepared for another visit to America. Through the auspice of attending an award ceremony in Washington D.C. (the mentorship award from Goldman Sachs and Fortune magazine) she will use this opportunity to visit more sponsors and entreat others to become sponsors. With new orphanages come dozens upon dozens of new children, and in order to sustain these orphanages past their initial startup costs we desperately need to enroll sponsors.

AFCECO could not wait for Andeisha’s award ceremony before implementing the impetus for that award: a leadership academy for our grade ten, eleven and twelve girls. Some of the guest lecturers themselves exclaimed how impressed they were with the class. Not only the feel of a real modern “smart” classroom, (11 computers, large meeting table, wall sized white board, screen, projector with Internet access) but also the seriousness the 15 girls bring to their new environs and studies. There may not be a classroom in all of Afghanistan quite like it. The program our education coordinator Ian Pounds has implemented revolves around an introduction to liberal arts studies, as well as specific elements of good leadership and leadership development skills, and of course English language skills. Ian likens the program to a Jeffersonian approach to the interdependence of education and democracy.

As October arrives all our schedules and programs are normalized, and everyone is back into a routine. This is a good time to solidify our gains this year in the mission we have to truly bring change to the lives of the Afghan people.


Your friends at AFCECO