“Love is never where you found her last; she resides in what comes between you, and though one day a peasant hoes a ditch, and a river weaves through terraced gardens, to begin with there will always be the waterfall. You are my waterfall…”

 

 Ian Pounds addressing the children of Mehan orphanage his final night in Kabul

September began with a farewell party to a volunteer who simply placed himself as the most beloved friend in the hearts of 170 children. For five months Ian lived with them, laughed and cried with them, all the while leading classes in a wide variety of disciplines, accommodating an even wider variety of learning levels among his students. The tears that flowed that final evening are flowing still. Our hearts will not be completely full until one day he returns to our open, waiting arms.

A few days before Ian left we held an Art Party, which he directed and had been preparing for over a month. His goal had been to involve as many of the children as possible. The hour-long show featured recitals of famous poems by Rumi, Hafez, Nadia Anjuman, and a contemporary poem by our good friend Mosan. Several of the children memorized the poems, reciting each in Dari, Pashtu, and English. 

These were complimented by a short anti-war play based on the famous Brecht tragedy Mother Courage and her Children, performed by the drama group. The older boys of Sitara II recited a speech by Shakespeare All the World’s a Stage, and our two young songbirds Nabila and Araj performed a heartfelt, touching rendition of Blowin’ in the Wind by Bob Dylan, backed up by a chorus of our ten-year old girls. One of the highlights in the event was a slide show by students from Ian’s photography class. At the very end of the party a group of children took to the floor in colorful traditional dress and performed the Afghan national Atan dance. At least eighty people were in attendance, and all were heartily entertained. 

September was a full month to begin with and it just kept getting fuller. Mehan orphanage welcomed the arrival of filmmaker Natalie Carney. She is Canadian, from Vancouver B.C., but resides in Dubai where she is active with programming on television and radio for the English speaking audience. She was here for one month in order to get footage and interview a variety of Afghans on issues ranging from orphanages to women’s rights to the government’s handling of poverty. You can see eight videos that document her initial findings by going to www.youtube.com and searching for links entitled “Kabul Afghanistan Forgotten Victims Blog”. Our Mehan girls are featured in many of the segments. Also featured is our effort to feed 7,000 refugees from the war in Helmond Province and a trip to a remote village outside of Jalalabad. There, a boy was accepted into the AFCECO family thanks to Natalie’s impromptu decision to sponsor him. Natalie has returned to Dubai, but her commitment to the children continues.

Thanks to her efforts, many boxes of clothes were collected and shipped to Kabul for to buffer the coming winter. We thank her from the bottom of our hearts, and eagerly anticipate the release of her documentary film sometime in the next year.
During Eid we had yet another guest, and Afghan-English man who brought the children on a picnic and, noticing the need for a refrigerator in Sitara donated one himself.

Other people we must thank are Doffie, Rose, Kristen Rouse, Natalie and Millington McCoy, all sponsors of children who, as winter approaches donated the funds necessary to store the many cords of wood we will need to keep the children warm.

The children are now fully occupied with school. As computers get up and running it is our hope more contact between kids and their sponsors will be possible via Skype. We wish to assure everyone that, though the news reports can be distressing life in the orphanages goes on as it always has. Our family (which you are integrally a part of) is broad, international, and of such depth representing a wonderful array of abilities. We need sponsorship to rebound after the effects of global recession, and we have great aspirations for a building of our own, maybe even a private school and health clinic, so there is work to do. But the children always come first. No matter what happens, this family of ours will find a way to make their future bright.

AFCECO

Kabul, October 1, 2009