Sarah has sent so many great pictures I couldn't resist adding as many in as possible ! See 29th April for picture of boys playing cricket. Paula
Another glorious morning and up at 5am. Invited for breakfast with Ramanullah—an Afghan lady I had met in
Raced on to Kunduz and to the RAD Centre for deaf and cerebral palsied kids. Incredible welcome with children throwing themselves into my arms, gesticulating wildly in sign language and kissing me. They are so affectionate and I have come to know them so well. Gave them all the presents from Arbour Vale kids …lovingly made by these very special children in the UK who are excluded from main stream education and, like these Afghan children are incredibly affectionate and giving and love preparing things for me to take to Afghanistan. This time T shirts for the boys with cricket pictures painted on them and scarves for the girls with messages in their own script ….they are thrilled. So sad to tear ourselves away as we usually manage a much longer visit. Sad farewells and promises to return.
Speed away back to Taloqan falling asleep and crashing my head at every bump. Arrive at the Taloqan centre for deaf and blind students, run by SCA and twinned recently to The Mary Hare School in Newbury. A lovely little school with amazing teachers awaits us …they are so dedicated and teach all the families and friends of the deaf students,to sign language…so they are no longer isolated in their communities. They study the mainstream curriculum and aim for university—it is a unique place here in
We meet all the children and tell them about their new link school and present them with a stunning wall hanging made by the children at Mary Hare. They are so happy and stand up one at a time to give messages …which are translated back to us from sign to English and we will carry home with us.
Then on to Sari Sang School –twinned with St Catherines. Took a class of 70 girls aged 16-18 and gave a talk on the Millennium Development Goals, illustrated with lots of slides. Was fascinating to have their comments on these MDGs. They had never heard about them ...the 9 goals created by the global community in 2000 aiming for an end to poverty and hunger, primary education for all ,reduction in child and maternal mortality, gender issues..equality for men and women/womens rights/ security, and others by 2015 and by 2020 in Afghanistan.
They discussed why Afghanistan has problems with these issues ...how many of the village women die in childbirth because there is no clinic near by, how poor security is the main barrier to achieving all of these goals by 2020 in Afghanistan, how some parents still wont let their children be educated because of economic reasons, security and tradition ...but they also described the positives - the fact that so many more children are coming to school, that they have some chance now to go on to become teachers and doctors and to serve their communities.
When asked for three things they valued most it was health, school and family and when asked what one thing would change their lives for the better they all said a road - a tarmac road would enable them to get agricultural produce to the markets, women to medical care, students to further education .....and when asked what order they would place the goals in in terms of importance to them they put security first and gender last ....so a fascinating insight and a very good lesson into how we should take more notice of what is needed and wanted rather than what we think the Afghans want.