We left Taloqan at dawn and headed across the hills to Keshem. Massive reforestation is occuring and thanks to the rain everything so green. Wild roses growing everywhere and spectacular views of hills and villages and the distant Hindu Kush. But the rain continues and the mud swamps all the towns and villages. We arrive at Jari Shah Baba--with its new classrooms funded by Equitable and Eureka Trusts, looking wonderful and protecting the girls from the elements--if not for our classrooms they would be outside in the mud in atrocious conditions.
A wonderful welcome and the best news of all is that we watch a volleyball match - the first time I have ever seen girls play sport in Afghanistan...the whole school comes outside to watch. Great court and net funded by the UK twin school The Holt. This school is a real message of hope in the region and one of the best I have seen... with science lab, excellent library and computer room all up and running. A far cry from a few years back when most in tents. We visit the classrooms and deliver twin school letters and projects before fond farewells and off to the next school.
Mashad is a Girls' school for 2500 girls in Keshem centre. Last year I saw the majority of these girls studying outside on the grass. This year, mud everywhere and the girls all huddled into our 20 new classrooms funded by David Chislett ..... they are not painted yet but due to the weather, all the girls are sheltering inside and are so grateful to us for the new buildings and so happy - they send us special thanks from their parents too. We interview 2 girls aged 14 and they are an inspiration. If there are children like these, studying in these schools, then Afghanistan must surely have a better future. They are polite, determined, eloquent and bright and so well disciplined. Remarkable interviews and make all the hard work to find funding so worthwhile.
Back to Taloquan and the rain still falling may stop us venturing down distant valleys tomorrow. We intend going to Worsaj village where we will stay with the locals in their homes and visit the schools for 2 days...it is a wonderful place and they have been asking us to stay with them for so long ... will be an amazing experience if we get there. Meanwhile Fiona and Eleanor Gall and their team of orthopods and physios have turned up and we will all share a room tonight in an overloaded guest house!