Tuesday, 19 April 2011

19th April 2011

Very early start after very bad nights sleep, but a beautiful clear morning and the journey to Keshem was stunning , with the morning light on the mountains and hills and the clearest blue skies. Drove to Jari Shah Baba School, where we have built 2 classroom blocks and were greeted by the children and teachers standing at the gate. They came forward one by one and put garlands around our necks and gave us bunches of brightly coloured flowers and sang the Afghan song of welcome to us - so many familiar faces and wonderful to be back.

Gareth and Jane received a wonderful welcome and we went round the classrooms, chatting to the students. They asked us questions and told us about their lives and all the difficulties they face with getting a good education. Wherever we go we are told that the biggest problem is the standard of teaching.

They had prepared a feast for us, cooked by the students with the equipment Holt school bought for them last year. After this we did more interviews with the students for our film on Education, which will be shown to Parliamentarians in Estonia, Solvakia, Sweden, Uk, the European Parliament and in Afghanistan. The girls who came forward to be interviewed were amazing and one had been to Kabul last month to take part in our Video Conference with the European students. She has illiterate parents -her father is a bus driver and has been desperate for his children to have an education to better themselves and leave the life of poverty they lead. She wants to be a female police woman because she believes that if the country had a good police force, security would be much better. Brave girl! She had heard that we were coming and had stayed up all night to crochet a table mat for me. The head mistress gave me a beautiful scarf in pink with silver embroidery and the headmaster gave me antique silver pendant “for my daughter “ and an embroidered handkerchief for my son!

We said our goodbyes and then headed off to Mashad School where AC has funded classrooms which were completed when I visited last year. Then there were 2500 students, now there are 3000 and there are only 63 teachers. Again, we were greeted with flowers and garlands and a choir. Prefects kept the children in order by wielding sticks! Hundreds of girls came to see us and we walked around visiting the classes. Then more gifts were presented - this time Afghan clothes for us all.

To my horror, we were then invited by the local education manager back to a local house for lunch. We were already full up from the first lunch! We were welcomed in to an immaculate house and sat on the floor and served the most enormous amount of food, all beautifully presented-salads and local herbs, huge plates of rice, whole chickens, big lumps of mutton, soup, yoghurt and fruit. I had the worst possible place to sit, between the two Afghans who were responsible for the feast...they kept on and on filling my plate until I could have wept! I could hardly move to stand up. Fond farewells. Slept all the way home.

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