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.

This month our Director Andeisha Farid finished up a series of forays abroad. She flew to India, the U.S. and finally Turkey, and attended a variety of events to which she had been invited to speak about her work and the mission of AFCECO. In attendance were powerful men and women of every sector in society, CEOs to lawmakers, celebrities to heads of state. She also had the pleasure of meeting several sponsors. All the while Andeisha’s priority was to let people know that the core of sustainability lies with the sponsorship of children. Right now there are at least two hundred children who are not sponsored, and at least fifty in the Kabul area who are only partially sponsored. Though we have benefited greatly from one-time donations to establish orphanages and support programs, the keep to survival into next year and the following year is getting as many children sponsored as possible. This insures the cost of running each orphanage will be covered. As the holidays approach we have put the recruitment of sponsors at the top of our list. We appeal to you our friends to get the word out, knowing that the best envoys are those who already believe in this work.

In the meantime our two orphanages in Herat are fully operational and have in addition benefitted from donors who have made it possible to establish a computer lab and library in both. We hope this will soon be the case in our Jalalabad orphanages. While Jalalabad waits for funding of such resources, we are excited to report that two athletic instructors have been recruited to work with the children. They have begun their school year and everything is running as smoothly as with our Kabul orphanages. Who knows, before long we just might be able to establish another new orphanage in another new city, Mazar e Sharif.

Speaking of Kabul the children have begun their final exam period of the year, before their winter break begins. The girl’s leadership academy, funded by the grant from Goldman Sachs and Fortune magazine, has been going wonderfully and is looking ahead to the final exam in less than two weeks, whereupon three of the girls will be selected to participate in the winter mentorship program in America. It has been an exciting two months, meeting three days a week with 13 girls for two-hours. Topics have centered on the struggle for freedom and leadership, communication skills and English skills. Guest lecturers have included Afghans working for positive change in their country, a human rights activist, a history professor, a director of legal services for women, a member of Parliament, and a visual artist. It will be difficult to select only three to go on to America for the winter. They all have been engaged and engaging. The class has come together as a unit, a family with unified vision to learn together for positive change in the future. It cannot be emphasized how much impact this class has had on the students. There is not a classroom in all of Afghanistan that can match such a resource room and liberal arts curriculum as has been provided for this workshop.

Aside from sending some students to America, once again our friends in Italy will host 15 of our children for six weeks during the break. In addition they are expanding the offer to include a similar host program to the mentorship program, wherein three to five of the older children will stay for most of the winter in Milan, gaining skills, seeing a bit of the world and learning through experience.

Sincerely,

Your friends at AFCECO