Monday, 24 October 2011

16th October - Ashrafia, AC resource centre and our last night in the villages

After our visit, the teachers lead us in to an orchard where they have spread out carpets and cushions and prepared fresh tea and apples and pears form their trees.

Afghanistan is a never ending eating experience at times….and we are whisked off from here to Ashrafia Boys School….where lunch is waiting!

Ashrafia Boys School is next to Tarusht Girls School. AC is funding a Resource Centre with Science Lab, Computer suite, library and meeting hall for the two schools to share. We saw the building nearly completed. We are also funding a new girls school and refurbishment of the old girls’ classrooms at Tarusht.

The boys and teachers were ready to greet us and we shared an incredibly lively and happy lunch with about 30 male teachers. We sat on red carpets and cushions, which the boys had brought in from home, and were served plates of local delicacies…including the baby sparrows, complete with heads on, which they had hunted in giant nets up the rocky ravines that morning . So much food. Luckily enough men there to hide the fact that we didn't eat so much!

A massive character with wild eyes and a tilted turban, came to greet us. I had met him last time. He wanted us to go and ride on his Buzkashi horse with him! The Headmaster took my photos of my family and asked to keep them for his wall so he wouldn’t forget us!

On to Tarusht Girls School. We walked through a hole in the wall and into the courtyard and were swamped by hundreds of girls, singing and throwing flowers at us and giving us scarves. The choir sang, and then there were speeches and then we were completely crushed by girls crowding around our table as we were given tea. Couldn’t see beyond the hundreds of intense faces…wondered if we would actually cause a stampede.

Fabulous to see the huge new buildings going up and the new school taking shape. V exciting . As I looked over the wall, I saw the girls going home, their burkhas billowing in the evening breeze , beside the river in this beautiful corner of the world, so very far from my home.

From Tarusht, our drivers took us even further up in to the hills, on roads made of rock and dust , with steep drops in to the valleys below. We stopped right up in the heights near the Anjoman Pass and walked up on to the peaks , from where we could look out for miles beyond. It was dusk and the cool evening was drawing in and a strong bitter wind was gusting through the mountains.

We came across a shepherd’s hut and a mother with four young children-two beautiful girls with the greenest eyes and two cheeky little boys who were playing rough and tumble in the dust. The girls were shivering in the cold. We emptied out all the warm clothes we had and gave them to the family and then watched the boys putting on layer upon layer of socks and giggling in the dust.

As we left, one of the girls came up to the car and I thought she was going to ask us for something …..but she just asked us to stay the night with them and share their supper. Drove off, watching this beautiful girl standing in that bleak place. No chance of an education…her mother was married off age 10 and never went to school and the same fate probably awaits her. It is such an impossibly tough world out here.

Our last night in the villages is spent in a poor community. We are joined by the entire village- everyone has come to pay their respects and we feel so sorry for the family, who end up feeding more than 70 people. 2 goats(whose heads lie on the ground and make us feel deep guilt!) and several guinea fowl are slaughtered .We make sure we leave a present to help.

We are so tired and the evening goes on for hours as the women are in no hurry to leave us. It is hilarious as we discuss their lives and loves and a widow tells us of all the young men she lusts after and all the old men she doesn’t want .! Nothing held back here and we hear all the village gossip.

As we all sit there , one of the girls suddenly throws herself to the floor and has an epileptic fit. It is a reminder of how tough the lives are here. I am sure she doesn’t receive the correct treatment and isn’t monitored as she would be here.

Finally we are left alone and have a hilarious time clambering over walls in the moonlight looking for a non existent latrine ! Not much sleep.

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