Trip report by Najib Aziz, President and Founder of TCOW My hope, like many Afghan expatriates, is that people from countries with troubled histories of war and conflict like Afghanistan, learn from their past mistakes-- and move on.
The current state in Afghanistan challenges these hopes. Even with all the financial support from the international community, there seems very little help is reaching the thousands of widows and millions of orphans here in Afghanistan. On my recent trip, I traveled to a refugee camp called Camp Barryghab where 500 families currently live. The camp is situated in a remote area, distant from any large city. The living conditions are deplorable. The inhabitants complain of snakes, poisonous spiders, and scorpions. Food and potable water are in short supply. The specter of disease hovers over the camp constantly. They are literally in the middle of nowhere—with little help or attention coming their way.
This is just on example of the current state in Afghanistan .
Some examples of the cruel inflation currently experienced:
In Kabul, the spiraling cost of living is making life increasingly difficult for the majority of the population. The prices of food and other daily necessities are going up drastically-- seemingly with no reasoning behind such inflation.
For example, in the month of July 2007, our TCOW office had only 2 hours of electricity per night available to it for use, yet our monthly electricity bill came out to $7,000 Afghanis (approximately $140 US dollars).
Here's another example: a typical Afghan government employee's salary is only $2,500-$3,000 Afghanis per month. However, rent for a one bedroom living arrange- ment is approximately $2,500 Afghanis a month. People barely make enough to pay for their rent let alone for necessities such as food and electricity.
Afghanistan is rare in that even the basics of living are expensive.
Hard to avoid helping:
Although my plan was to focus on the TCOW schools in Kabul and Paghman and to renovate an entire section of the Kabul school, it was very hard to deny anyone who asked for financial support.
Many days women would come to the Paghman and Kabul Schools asking for financial assistance and there were even times when I would find women lined up outside the residence where I was staying, at 5 o'clock in the morning.
I could talk for hours about the lives of these very unfortunate people in Afghanistan- people who have been betrayed by everyone including their own countrymen. They don't know who to turn to and whom they can trust anymore.
Dear friends, we at The Children of War (TCOW) are doing our best to bring positive change to the lives of as many people as we can. We are encouraging everyone to take part and bring about change not only for your own satisfaction, but also for the sake of humankind and to make God happy and to get the reward that you deserve in the hereafter. After all, none of us know how long we are going to live because tomorrow is never guaranteed.
We try to focus on the most in need: the children, the disabled, and the widows.
A brief status report from our schools:
In addition to supporting hundreds of widows and destitute people with cash assistance, we have expanded our program in our recent trip. The purpose of our trip to Afghanistan was to renovate the Kabul boys' school which was severely damaged by heavy rain and snowfall this past winter. The damage was so severe, that we had to fix the entire roof. We built an aluminum roof for safety, in order to withstand any type of weather. You can see the pictures in our photo gallery or directly on our flicker site: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tcow .
While I was in Kabul, I accompanied our Kabul Girls students on a field trip to the Paghman Girls' school. This was a nice trip for all involved and you can see the pictures in our photo gallery.
Also in Kabul Girl school news: we were able to enroll 15 more students. These students were interviewed several times carefully and studied hard to get enrolled in our school. These new students started school on October 1st, 2007.
New Empowerment Program Launched for the Disabled of Wardak Because of our goal of giving the neediest Afghans the opportunity to receive basic education, enhance their job skills and obtain work, we have expanded our operations to a career training and education center in Madidan Wardak region.
Here we opened our first facility and school for disabled people. Each enrolled student has some type of disability (typically a single or multiple missing limbs) and therefore has had difficulty to find work and create a living. Our program consists of basic education (similar to our Kabul and Paghman schools) and a hands-on sewing training program (with equipment and material). Due to the precarious housing situation and limited space, we currently rent two rooms and have enrolled 13 disabled people. When more economical and feasible space is found, we'd like to expand our enroll- ments given there is a clear need. We hope that we will be successful in establishing a school for orphaned kids—similar to the ones in Kabul and Paghman-- in the near future.