Archive | July, 2012

Bethan. Kabul. Tokyo.

5 Jul

“These are Kabul’s forgotten communities and I’m proud that our staff could find them even in the midst of winter.”

Bethan Williams, Programme Manager for Afghanistan, recently returned from visiting our sister office in Kabul and the projects that are run within some of the poorest and neglected areas of the city. With the future support of Afghanistan being discussed at the Tokyo Conference on the 8th of July, Bethan reflects on the dedication and commitment of our Afghan colleagues to supporting the forgotten communities of Afghanistan.

Afghanistan

Bethan Williams with the Children in Crisis team outside  Community Based Education Centre (CBEC) 2, Tani Kot, Kabul.

Last time I visited Afghanistan, Kabul was covered in a layer of thick snow in the midst of the coldest winter for 20 years. At that stage the education team were just starting the long process of finding accommodation for our new education centres. From the windows of the office the snow gave the city a magical feel but I was well aware of the effort being put in by the team heading out each day in the snow to canvass new areas to assess their suitability for new project, even more important than normal since these centres would be where we set up for a three-year project.

Afghanistan

The CBEC 2 building in Tani Kot, District 7, Kabul. The buildings are basic community buildings that are often in some of the more isolated areas of the city.

When I returned to Kabul last month to review the progress so far on our new projects, Kabul had returned to its normal sweaty dustbowl situation and the magical snow remained only on the very top of the huge mountains that cradle the city and make take-offs and landings interesting. As I set-off with our Country Director and Education Manager to visit the centres. I was a bit nervous to see where they would be, over the past three years the team have shown increasing dedication in where the centres are starting close to the main roads and once their confidence in the work and the need for education in more remote communities increased, moving deeper into the communities. My main worry that since the centres were established during the snowiest time, that from sheer lack of accessibility, we’d be back by the main roads.

Afghanistan

Some children arrive at the CBECs for accelerated learning classes not being able to read or write. In one year they will have progressed through the equivalent of 2 years of primary education.

It seems my concerns were completely unfounded, at the first centre the Country Director told me we were going to take the long way around so that I could drive the way the teachers walk each morning, 25 minutes after leaving the main road we arrived at the centre. Similarly at the second centre, we climbed up and up the side of one of the mountains and reached the centre right at the top. From up there, the teachers proudly pointed out all the houses where the children walked from. I asked them about their commute and the teachers told me, the community are happy to have us here so we’re happy to be here. Happy seems to be an understatement, even though this is part of a capital city of a country that has received huge amounts of aid, the community have never worked with an NGO before, these are Kabul’s forgotten communities and I’m proud that our staff could find them even in the midst of winter. As I squeezed myself onto the central line this morning I thought about the Children in Crisis teachers setting out on their daily commute up a mountain and once again felt grateful for the commitment and dedication of my Afghan colleagues.

You can read more about the upcoming Tokyo Conference on the 8th July on the DFID website here. We will also be following the event on twitter so please follow us @childrencrisis and #Tokyo4Afghans and re-tweet to your followers.

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