The Afghan Child Education and Care Organization (AFCECO) has been one of the most positive and unique developments in Afghanistan’s war torn landscape. For 15 years children coming from extreme poverty, displacement, and violence have lived together in orphanages that are bastions of true democracy, places where everyone is equal and equally takes care of one another, where health and education take precedence over divisions of race and language and the climate of hatred civil war engenders. The investment by sponsors and donors over time has begun to pay off as the first generation of “graduates” now enter university while working for AFCECO. These young people are devoted to their homeland, to their people’s wellbeing, and will invariably manifest the model of their orphanage’s peace, hope and integrity into mainstream Afghan society.
AFCECO has tried to provide a wide variety of programs for children within the framework of its orphanages, not settling on just a shelter where the children get free meals, but rather a safe home where they learn tolerance, respect for diversity, environmental sensitivity, respect for the rights of others, and strong values of integrity, honesty and caring. Due to the poor standard of public schools, AFCECO augments the short school day with a plethora of extracurricular activities.p>
We has 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 20 girls and boys from our orphanage study music, both traditional central Asian and western orchestral instruments at Afghanistan National Institute of Music.
AFCECO’s music program started in 2010 with the generous support of an American sponsor Rose Vines who donated in honor of her mother to establish music class at our orphanages. In 2011, the music program has developed to a degree we could not have dreamed. The partnership with ANIM was a big turnover in the life of our children who were dreaming to become professional musicians. 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 an amazing concert at World Economic Forum in Davos.
It is important to note we are at a crucial juncture in the music program. We are experiencing growing antagonism toward our teaching music, especially to girls. Now more than ever we feel the need to keep the music flowing. AFCECO has experienced pressure from some people within the Afghan government and from extreme elements in society that believe an Afghan woman should remain in a house as slave to her husband. Yet the Afghan constitution does not deny music. Our female musicians are modeling a new and inspiring role for Afghan women. Their performances resist and gradually chip away at the misogynist society. It is also a crucial time because now our students are entering a new phase of their education, from intermediate to exceptional. Experience the brave young musicians yourself by watching their performance at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. February 2013.
Mehan Orphanage, Karat-e-Char Kabul Afghanistan United States
+93 70 733 2905