Sunday, 11 November 2007

November 9th - schools rise from the dust

(Posted by Paula on Suunday - welcome email received telling me all was well...)

Was all a bit spooky last night when the generator went out and left me in dark and alone in this large, cold building and feeling a bit too far from home! So once again, pleased to see daylight. If anyone wants to text me a goodnight message….so welcome – at about 5pm your time!!

It is Friday and all schools closed, but the Kunduz RAD centre where there are 40 deaf and 5 cerebral palsied children had stayed open for my visit. So wonderful to see the same children who were so delightful at last visit and was greeted with huge hugs and kisses from them all.

Went round 5 classes and all kids used sign language so we had one translator English to Dari and another Dari to sign. I gave them the wall hanging from the children at Arbour Vale Special School (AV) and all the gifts. The boys had football shirts collected by Bradfield and my kids and were so thrilled - Italy/England/Man U and Arsenal amongst others and so much pleasure! The girls dressed up in all the hair ribbons and jewellery from Antonia and from AV and the boys zoomed round the room clutching matchbox cars. The older boys requested sports kit, so I disappeared to the Kunduz bazaar…which was humming with activity and bargained away for 2 punch bags and 6 pairs boxing gloves plus cricket bats and balls, all made in China and all for $60 . Massive crowd around us by the time I had finished.

Fond farewells as these brave children clambered into the bus to go home. The girls stand little chance of marrying and with all the hardships faced by Afghan kids, for them, even more. So sad to think of their time ahead as they all put faces against the window and blew kisses goodbye.

After lunch—and again hospitality from school and more huge plates of food! – sped off towards Syab. Syab is near Bangi,Taloqan and was hit hard in both Russian war and Taliban front line with Northern Alliance. The journey took us through places emerging from the ashes of war. Everywhere dust …great clouds of it and even the sky was dust filled today. Everything looked sinister and bleak and so desolate. Began to question what on earth I was doing on atrocious roads heading to an unknown destination hours down a track, with darkness not far enough away. It all looked so hostile and for the first time I felt uneasy about travelling.

There were no other vehicles on our 2 hour journey and judging by the stares I got, not many foreigners come this far. But at last we reached Syab and as we left the town a huge construction appeared on the hilltop and it was Syab School. It is being funded by an AC donor and seeing it was just FANTASTIC! So often question what I am doing but when I see a brand new school going up in this isolated, poor, remote place, I see a massive symbol of hope and so rewarding.

The engineer was thrilled to see us, as were his team of builders. We looked all round the site - it should be finished December and was only stared in August. So exciting seeing work in progress, all the plasterers and carpenters in full swing. In the distance were the 5 tents used now as the school—so great to think they will be in proper shelter soon.

A wonderful visit and even the journey back seemed brighter and less hostile and had a few waves and smiles as well as stares!

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