Marga Flader and Leo Heyelmann report from their visit
in April/May 2017
As always, we were eager to learn more about our many different projects. Would the positive changes prevail?
The first part of our visit we spent in Andkhoi. We were particularly interested in seeing the developments of our women centres and we were not disappointed. The second floor of the Women’s Centre in Andkhoi was completed. Now there is a big room for meetings and for physical activities. We were surprised that some used fitness equipment had already been purchased. We had brought some thera-bands, soft balls and hula-hoops for exercises. It was great to see how the ladies enjoyed the big and small equipment – sometimes even with music! Some came in the early morning before school or work for exercising. Now the manageress is looking for an assistant to help with the supervision and training of the ladies.
There were also good news for us in the Women’s Centre in Baghebustan. The big kitchen has been completed and is used for courses in cooking and nutrition. Under the guidance of an expert lady, the participants are cooking together not only tasty but also healthy and low-cost food. They are working on a cookery book in order to practice the newly acquired writing skills. We were invited to taste their good food after the party to inaugurate the centre. We celebrated together with students and many other female guests with music, dance and a game of volleyball.
In both centres it became obvious once again how the literacy and sewing courses and other joint activities bring the women together and strengthen them. And how efficient they can be if needed: Together they managed to sew 70 Turkmen style dresses ordered by the district governor for girls taking part in the inauguration of the Lapis Lazuli Rail connection in which the presidents of both Afghanistan and Turkmeni- stan took part.
The courses in our Education Centre are continuing successfully. If problems arise, the VUSAF discuss them and find solutions themselves. The students appreciate the good quality of the tuition which is sometimes still lacking in state schools. There, qualified teachers and text books are very often still missing. The schools have to accept the teachers who are sent to them by the education authorities and quite often this is not in line with their requirements. That is why we are training teachers in the courses which we are running in our education centre. For one year or longer if needed, we „employ” state school teachers as “assistants” to our qualified teachers and train them on the job. During the holidays we organize teacher training seminars. Our colleagues can be proud to say that they have reached their aim this year: Teachers of all grades from 1 to 12 have been trained. They will hopefully now be able to play a supportive role to their colleagues in their own school.
In addition to our visits of our courses we had some especially interesting discussions. In two groups we met older girls and boys who spoke good English and asked them about their thoughts and wishes for their own future. First of all, all of them wanted to pass the entry exam for university and study to become a medical doctor, a lawyer or teacher etc. and “serve our country”. The discussion then moved on to topics such as their parents’ view with regard to their plans, in particular the girls’ wishes to work, and to arranged marriage versus love marriage. It became clear that traditions still play an important role, especially in rural areas. This became in particular clear when the question was if a woman should obey their husband. A lively discussion followed with different opinions reaching from “they have to because we are living according to Islam” to “all problems should be discussed together and together we will solve our problems”. The boys were particularly open in the discussions about the role of traditions and agreed that traditions are changing – everywhere. Of course, not only in Afghanistan but also here where we live.
When travelling through the countryside we could see that wishes to have a school in their own village, additional classrooms or an improvement of the existing school buildings are still existing. Again we visited the Nayestan School in Kohna Qala which we inaugurated last October. The principal was so happy and now he wants to open the school also in the afternoon so that more children can study. We also received more requests. The village elders of Urgunchikhana (district of Qaramqul) for example visited us in our guest house to request a school building. Presently, their children are studying in two rented rooms of a size 2 x 3 m. Of course, we would like to help. We heard about positive changes in existing schools if the school management is cooperating well with the school staff and parents. In Abu Muslim, the oldest secular school in Andkhoi, students of special needs get additional help, there are many different sports activities and a new nice garden is planned.
The second part of our visit took us to Mazar-e-Sharif. We met for the first time the new construction engineer who is monitoring all our construction projects. In the VUSAF Mazar office our “workshop” took place once again with representatives from Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif, Andkhoi and Hamburg. Together we discussed the work of the last six months and discussed the plans for the near future.
During our visit of the Maula Ali School which we had inaugurated last October the happiness of the many small boys and girls spread over to us. Better tuition is now possible in this nice new school. School laboratory, library, good furniture, big clean rooms with polished floors have improved the working environment. It will take some time until we can say the same with regard to the other new school construction project Moh. Sedique Shaheed. The ground was too soft. Before we could begin with the construction work, the whole big area of the 24-classroom building had to be excavated and exchanged with gravel and sand up to about 2.20 m. Not only the students were watching the on-going work with worried looks but us too because we will have to raise another EUR 20,000 for the additional costs.
Our meeting with the new head of education for the Province of Balkh was good. He was interested and seemed active. Just in the fight against corruption, the rules for our work as NGO have been revised causing additional work to our colleagues in Afghanistan.
Working together and enjoying something together:Our annual outing with the colleagues took us to the former king’s palace in Tashqurghan (Khulm). This bonds us closer together and gives strength for the coming work.
During our visit we made some observations between traditions and the changes of the recent years with the positive outweighing the negative ones. The positive changes are growing more slowly then we wish for but they are growing! We need to be patient and, of course, also the funds for our projects which benefit the young generation of Afghanistan.
Please help us also in the future with your private donations. Thank you very much.
Marga Flader and Leo Heyelmann
Account for Donations:
Account holder: Afghanistan-Schulen e.V.,
Deefenallee 21, 22113 Oststeinbek (Hamburg) Germany
Bank: Hamburger Sparkasse, Adolphsplatz, 20355 Hamburg
IBAN DE37 2005 0550 1008 2258 05 (BIC: HASPDEHHXXX)