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Matthias Art Class

Today AFCECO children receive professional instruction in drawing, watercolour, pastel and oil painting. This is one way the children gain marketable skills and also reclaim their heritage and culture. We dedicated this art studio to Prof Matthias Tomczak who has been supporting AFCECO since the beginning of our orphanages.

Music Recording Studio

We wish to set up a small in-home recording studio at the new home of Mehan Orphanage that besides being a rehearsal room for our music students it would help them record their music and broadcast over Internet. Nearly 30 girls and boys from our orphanage study music, both traditional central Asian and western orchestral instruments at Afghanistan National Institute of Music. Our female musicians are now members of Zohra Orchestra, Afghanistan’s first all-female orchestra. This orchestra has performed on world’s prestigious stages including World Economic Forum in Davos.

Hope Dance Studio

An archaic culture discourages girls from appearing in public, at AFCECO the girls break tradition and perform in front of large audiences; this nonviolent act strengthens every girl. Thanks to Kabul Dance Studio that offered free dance lessons to over 30 girls in 2010, which then encouraged us to establish our own dance studio in Mehan Orphanage. Since then, our youngest dance performers touched every single heart in the audience as they were performing in various events. They have learned to perform very complex traditional attan dance that enquires stamina and timing you’d expect from professional dance theater. Our dance team are stunningly beautiful, too, especially accentuated by their colorful and vibrant traditional Afghan dresses. We need to renew and upgrade most parts of the studio to meet all the requirements our girls need.

Girls Gym Club

One crucial element of AFCECO programs is to develop physical fitness and character building, team building skills in all its children, girls as much as boys. Because of security and cultural restrictions outside the orphanages, our girls have very few opportunities to build healthy bodies and develop such skills as only athletics can provide. We have a relatively big lawn at the new home of Mehan Orphanage which has enough space to build a basketball, badminton and volleyball courts. We required a fund to get the required equipment and sportswear for girls and also hire a martial art master to train them in karate and martial art.

Farhana Clinic

Farhana Clinic is a small clinic equipped with an ultrasound and a pharmacy. This clinic is dedicated to Farhana, our beloved student who died in her village while visiting her family. We heard she died of an illness, most probably because she had no access to health care at her home.

Doffie Library

Doffie eLibrary is literally a digital library where we installed a data server connected to 12 computers with high speed Internet. There is also a working eStation that is used for eCoaching classes. This eLibrary is in honor of Doffie Rotter, whom our children call the “Mom” of AFCECO. Although she is not sponsoring any child now she still is loved and appreciated for everything she did to help and grow AFCECO. She founded AFCECO’s first library at Mehan in 2008 donating hundreds of books.

Ian Resource Center

Ian Resource Center is a multi-purpose resource center for all classes. This Center is dedicated to Ian Pounds, an American teacher, author and musician who traveled to Afghanistan in 2008 with on-way ticket and spent five years living with Afghan children at one of AFCECO orphanages in Kabul. He lost a battle with ALS on July 31st, 2016 and left hundreds of his Afghan kids in shocking grief. He was 55.

Dale Computer Lab

Dale Computer Lab has 20 computers with necessary software. This computer lab is dedicated to Professor Dale Larson, university lecturer at the American University of Afghanistan who funded this newly established computer lab.

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Inside the Orphanage

when we hear the word orphanage, for most of us cavernous halls with rows of straw mattresses come to mind, cold and embattled attendants who have grown indifferent to crying, and dirty fingernails, soiled sheets, and lice-ridden hair. Whenever anyone visits an AFCECO orphanage, the first thing they notice is how clean it is and how happy the children are.

It is as NBC’s Brian Williams aptly noted, “a haven for Afghan children”, not so much a place sheltering orphans and giving them food, as it is a place where a new generation of progressive Afghan leaders can emerge.

The Dari word Parwarishga means, literally, “foster haven”. When people ask, any attempt to describe gives way to a simple question: “Have you been to visit the children yet?”

Most of the children are orphans, victims of child labor or street children who were forced to beg. They have been exposed to very hostile and painful environments. They enter the orphanage in a state of wonder. This new environment is a world apart from their prior lives, a place where they can sleep and eat without fear. Here they begin a new life based on peace, love and respect. Diverse as Afghanistan itself, AFCECO children have one thing in common: if they were not in the orphanage they would be victims of the street, of war, of poverty. They come from Farah, from Nuristan, from Mazar, Bamyan and Herat. They come from the most remote mountainside village where water is still hauled up from a river. With heartstrings attached to villages and family, they are not disconnected from their country, but rather those connections are reinforced. They learn how a family can grow.

A typical AFCECO home is three stories with spacious rooms. There is a courtyard where flowers grow. With 80 children living there, every day is bustling with activity. Bread is to be made, fl oors swept and laundry to be hung. Some children are off to school, others are gathering with a volunteer English teacher, while still others are upstairs in drama class preparing an Afghan version of a Greek tragedy. They all have responsibilities, and if anyone neglects their duty their peers hold them to it. At the age of 9 or 10, girls and boys are separated and go to their own orphanages.

They treat one another as they would any sibling. Their free time is spent playing games such as table tennis or jumping rope, or telling stories on the verandah while drinking afternoon tea. After school many go off to soccer or karate. They are given an hour in the evening to watch television but also have prescribed times in the library where they must do homework. Every week there are guests to attend to, journalists and volunteers interested in AFCECO, or sometimes a family member or sponsor visiting from afar. There is constant interaction between the orphanage and the outside world.

With each orphanage AFCECO opens, the need becomes clearer. As soon as it is announced, the orphanage is filled. Frustratingly, dozens of children must be “waitlisted” until another orphanage can be opened. Most extraordinary is the plethora of AFCECO children from Farah Province, from Kunar and Nuristan, areas more conservative than the Kandahar and Helmond Provinces so much the focus of NATO forces. These provinces are almost completely controlled by Taliban forces.

And yet, here the people are lining up to place their children in an orphanage where girls are taught to be equal, boys to allow it, and all are exposed to a secular and liberal arts education. What most every Afghan is looking for, what they see in this orphanage, is opportunity. How this opportunity is provided dissolves ideological boundaries, because AFCECO’s tenets are universally desirable: create a safe, clean, home-like environment, encourage alliances through diversity, and provide a dynamic education. All of this in an atmosphere of tolerance and respect. The impact of such daily living upon the children, and by proxy their families, cannot be overstated. The impact on girls is so profound that it strikes to the core of the problems facing Afghanistan. AFCECO’s girls don’t only realize their rights, they practice them. They stand up tall, their scarves fall from their heads, and they begin to dream. It is impossible to call such a place an orphanage, because these children are reclaiming their identity, are moving forward stronger and more resolved than ever imaginable in the milieu of Afghan society.

A Day in the Life of the Orphanage

A day begins at 5:30 a.m. when the 60 or so children stir and the housemother heats water and the house father goes off to market. Nobody needs to badger or otherwise nag the children.

The Story of Our Orphanages

The story of Parwarishga must begin with the modern history of Afghanistan. Nowhere, it seems has the poison of war come together with the poison of religious extremism
NATALIE CARNEY, 2009
The Story of AFCECO
Natalie Carney, a multi-media broadcast journalist from Canada spent one month in Mehan Orphanage filming daily life of children.
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FAQs

How do you select children to live in the orphanage?
Through our countrywide network of friends, AFCECO now receives referrals almost daily. There are over a thousand children on the waiting list. If we opened ten more orphanages tomorrow, they would be fi lled in a week. The children come from the streets, from homes destroyed by war, they come from families too poor to feed them, and they come from abusive homes from which they have fl ed with their mothers. In all cases, we meet with family members face to face and discuss the long-term goals and benefi ts. Family members must agree and ascribe to all AFCECO policies, knowing that to give the world we offer takes time and commitment.
Why do you not allow children to be adopted? Are these children really orphans?
Isn’t it dangerous in Kabul and other cities? How do you keep the children safe?
What about families wanting girls back, presumably to sell them into marriage?
What happens when the children turn 18?
Where does the money go?
Do you ever lose children?
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afceco@gmail.com
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afcecocmehan8@gmail.com
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Contact us

AFCECO is an Afghan non-profit organization based in Kabul running orphanages and educational centers for Afghan orphans and street children.

H # 13, Street 1, Karta-e-Char, 1006, Kabul, Afghanistan

+93 79 889 3234

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