Tuesday, 22 April 2008

A new trip - starting with cricket...

Posted by Paula on Tuesday am - I had an email on Monday to say that sarah had arrived safe and well...

21st April 2008

At Dubai terminal 2, I was sitting waiting for my Kabul flight when an Afghan asked me what work I do in Afghanistan. I told him about our schools and asked him from which province he came. He replied that he was born and brought up in Pakitika. This is a drought ridden, war torn province which receives very little aid.

Just before I left England I had received a call from a new donor. He said he wanted to help with a project which would be unlikely to attract aid and suggested building Shahid Nemat School in Paktika. This is a school for 900 boys and girls and needs 18 new classrooms.... it is a huge project in a difficult area and I had not imagined that I would ever receive funding. It was the most wonderful news. I told the Afghan—Abdul Khatima, about the good news and he asked me in which village the school would be built. When I replied in Spina his face lit up in disbelief and joy and he proclaimed “this is my village, this is my village!” It was a perfect way to start my trip.

On arrival in Kabul after a 24 hour journey, we were whisked off through the rain drenched streets of Kabul to the National Cricket Stadium to meet the Afghan Coach –Taj Malik. As we drew up, the thunder, lightning and hail crashed down around us. Thousands of Burkhad women, school children, street urchins and market sellers, huddled together under makeshift shelters, lashed by rain for which they had being praying at every Kabul mosque for the last months.

The National Stadium is near the infamous football stadium, where the Taliban carried out public executions during their grip on Kabul. We were met by Taj Malik and led up the staircases to our meeting. As we climbed the stairs I glimpsed the vast field where men and women had been led to their deaths. It was grey, raining, and the place seemed unable to free itself from its grisly past.

The meeting was not quite as straightforward as imagined—but very complex and Afghan… finishing the stadium seems a long way off, but we are not giving up yet! Then we took all our cricket equipment—donated in UK and carried all the way to Kabul—to the cricket Academy. We were met by the Under 19 teams and the future hopefuls of the Afghan team. They emptied out the bags and put on the cricket kit and said they had been wondering what to do as they had so few cricket balls - we had arrived with 100. It was a great and truly eccentric afternoon.

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