Thursday, 1 May 2008

1st May - Heading homewards...

A splendid morning meeting with 30 school consultants and teachers from all the Southern and Eastern schools I am not allowed to visit due to security. I know them well now and recognise the characters--the shy ones who summon all courage to speak; the flamboyant ones, the funny ones and the serious too. One small man who says little, asked to speak. He had written me a poem and read it out in Dari, translated for me by the education leader. It was very much from the heart and very touching and I will always keep it.

I was then presented with a traditional black velvet Afghan costume, heavily covered with gold embroidery, with baggy green trousers and green veil....with a wonderful note attached from all the teachers thanking me for my help and suggesting I am now an honorary Afghan. They insisted that I go and put it on ....

Well, what a struggle! It weighed a ton and was vast in volume of material but very rigid due to all the thick gold embroidery. After a few claustrophobic moments lost in a black tunnel of material I somehow managed to squeeze into it---though the trousers only made it to my knees... so I kept on my own!

As I returned to the room, It felt a little like walking down a corridor in a coffin! They were thrilled! And I had to continue my talk in full costume. That was the easy bit... having given out all the twin material from England and received and packed away all the fantastic gifts from the Afghan schools-not an easy feat when swathed in yards of velvet and gold - it was time to extricate myself from the gown and head to the airport. In the middle of the dress, searching for light and air and unable to get any help as certainly no women anywhere around, I finally broke the surface and breathed insome air, I couldn't help laughing at my near hopeless predicament!

And so I said my goodbyes to these people I have come to know and love so much and headed for the chaos of Kabul International and the gateway to home. It has,as always, been a totally inspiring and humbling visit and, as always too, I have received so much more than I can ever give.

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