Wednesday, 15 October 2008
15th October - The bags arrive!
Sarah spent a frustrating hour with poor and intermittent generator power and finally managed to get this to me - pictures have now arrived as well!
Today we had meetings at SCA offices on the notorious Jalalabad road, affectionately known as Suicide Alley. It is a road lined with military bases and often clogged with heavily armed military vehicles and tanks - a stark reminder of the battles being fought across the country. Sadly these peacekeeping forces in Kabul have been the target of suicide attacks and hence the name of the road. Most vehicles desperately try to avoid being holed up beside these military vehicles and in their panic stricken attempts to avoid them probably cause far more accidental casualties than the attacks themselves.
Today's meeting was to allow me to meet up with students and teachers from all the schools where poor security means I cannot visit. It was incredibly humbling. Some had travelled for hours to be here and had brought beautiful gifts for their UK twin schools. One group had been too afraid to bring the materials in case the Taliban stopped and searched their bus. Another group had taken a 7 hour detour to avoid Taliban road blocks in Wardak. But they were all determined to be here and we spent the day discussing problems and challenges in their schools, the security situation and the good things too - like new buildings, University graduates and the twin school links and what they mean to their children.
Some schools had been visited by the Taliban and subjects Like History and Geography had been bannned because The Taliban found they had been heavily criticised in the text books and wouldn't let them be used - there must be some compromise where their part of history can be played down until times are less sensitive - then at least the students can learn the rest of Geograpy and History.
I showed them our twin school film and they were very moved by that as they could see all the work we have done in Afghanistan and hadn't realised how much we had done - one man then wrote me a poem and read it out, thanking me for my courage in helping Afghanistan. Jane and I were presented with gold and silk tribal Afghan dresses, trousers and scarves, heavily embroidered and beaded and in beautiful colours. We had to wear them and caused much joy - and hilarity.
I gave out all the twin school gifts and cards - Schools twinned to St Gabriels, Brookfields, Moulsford, Elstree, Home Farm, Marshgate, Brighton & Hove, Guernsey Grammar, Ryeish Green, Ellingham and Churchdown were there and I handed over all the UK twin school gifts and just as they were about to leave for their provinces, my bags appeared from the airport like one massive miracle and everyone praised Allah and I handed out all the missing gifts JUST FANTASTIC!!!