Archive | April, 2012

Finding our voice

3 Apr

You’re reading the first of a stream of blogs that we hope will flow from the field to you, a supporter of our projects in Afghanistan, the DR Congo, Liberia and Sierra Leone. With these blogs what we want is for you to see, feel and know that the work you support is constantly progressing, developing, and improving lives. We want you to see how we reflect on our learning and experience to improve the way we work. We want you to meet the amazing programmes staff and local partner NGOs who give so much energy and drive to make these projects succeed. What I, a fundraiser for Children in Crisis most want is for you to be inspired by the voices in these blogs as I am, to know that you support a truly important and valuable cause. See education brought to some of the most neglected people and the difference it makes. Know the difference you make.

Some posts will be long, others short. Some more thoughts and feelings, others more facts and detail. We are new to this blogging business, so please, be patient and read on as we find our voice.

And with no further a’do. Meet our first voice from the field…..

Kabul. A new arrival.

2 Apr
Crystal Stewart, has just recently taken on the role of Project Manager for our social worker training work in Afghanistan. Her previous role was with War Child Holland, working as a program advisor in the occupied Palestinian territories and helping children in conflict with the law.
  
Kabul is a beautiful, contrasting place. We asked Crystal to give us her first impressions of the city, its people and her first month in a new job.
 
This is what she wrote: 
 
Crystal, social worker advisor for Children in Crisis in Kabul, Afghanistan

Photo - Crystal Stewart in Children in Crisis Kabul office

On my flight into Kabul, squished between two very large military guys, I couldn’t help but feel a little nervous about what was to come.  Being one of the seven girls on a flight of around 150 people is a rather intimidating experience. As we approached Kabul, spectacular views of enormous snowcapped mountains lined the sky.  Leaning over the snoring military man to look out the window, I felt my heart beating a little faster.  Still to this day, I’m not sure if it was the breathtaking views or the fact that it was all becoming a reality that caused my body to react in that way.

A snowy Kabul awaited me - the roof of the office with white mountains in the distance.

For years, the Afghan children have captured my heart.  The media portrays the conflict in so many different ways but I always knew there was something more.  As soon as I arrived at the Children in Crisis office and met my new colleagues, all of my preconceived fears were tossed out the window.  They were incredibly kind, welcoming, humble, respectful and extremely dedicated to rebuilding their war-torn country.  I was immediately inspired and ready to contribute in any way possible.

Over the next couple of weeks, I visited the public orphanages, juvenile rehabilitation centres, community-based education centres, met with government leaders, other NGOs and international agencies.  I heard one heartbreaking story after the next but somehow there was always a ray of hope in every story.  I had the opportunity to meet two boys in the orphanage that, through the help of social workers, caregivers, Children in Crisis staff and other NGOs, have managed to recover from life-threatening conditions.  This showed me that, despite the incredibly challenging circumstances children face in this country, things can change.

Camera shy at Chelsetoon. A community based education centre run in a remote community on the outskirts of Kabul.

The Social Work Capacity Development Project has basically built an entire child protection system from practically nothing.  The government now has social workers, trained by Children in Crisis and able to respond to cases of abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence.  It is a truly impressive accomplishment especially in one of the harshest places in the world for children to grow up.  Of course, systems take time to develop and there is still a lot of work to be done.  The team here is committed to strengthening the systems and raising awareness about child rights and child protection.

Children on a roadside in Kabul, Afghanistan

Children at a roadside in Kabul

Now the snow has lifted, the newness has worn away, the sun is coming out making even more apparent the filth, poverty, corruption and power struggles that exist in this country.  But in my opinion, one thing will never change, the cheerful spirit of the Afghan children.  Their strength and courage can never be altered no matter what happens.  I have hope that their future is slowly changing.

We’ve recently updated our website, giving more information about the social worker training project that Crystal is working on. Read more.