Because of the 23 years of war and unrest in Afghanistan, its people have had to endure great hardships. Gunfire, bombings, lack of shelter, food, medicine, and genocide are just some of the daily tribulations of the Afghan people. Many families have lost fathers, mothers, sons, and/or daughters as a direct result of the wars. It is very difficult for a family to survive, and it is almost impossible for widows and orphans. The Youth and Children Development Program in Afghanistan has been working with ARYA in the U.S. to provide much needed blankets and clothing for the orphans and widows of Afghanistan.

The implementing team of YCDP was given this project by YCDP and ARYA on the 7th of January 2003. The team consisted of the representative of ARYA, Suraya Mahboub, Dr. Najib Paikan and Said Jalal from YCDP. They started the project on the 8th of January.

For two days the team went to survey the orphanages in Kabul. They concluded that there were more orphanages than we had the money to help. For this reason and because the orphanages in Kabul were given some help from the government and other agencies in the capital city, permission was obtained through ARYA and YCDP to move the project to the north of Kabul to Kapisa and Parwan provinces. Kapisa and Parwan were chosen because during the 23 years of war and especially the last 7 years these provinces have been the front lines of defense against the Russians and the Taliban. As a result, there are many widows and orphans in these areas. On January 9th the team went to survey the orphanage in Charikar, Parwan province. In that particular orphanage, there were more than 100 children, girls and boys, living in very bad conditions without heat in the building or proper clothing. We asked a boy, Shadab, how he came to the orphanage. He said that the Taliban killed his mother and father and since they did not have anyone to take care of them, a friend of the family brought him and his younger sister to this orphanage. Shadab wore torn clothes and said that he was cold especially because they had nothing in the orphanage to heat the rooms. All of the children in this orphanage complained of cold weather, lack of medicine, lack of decent housing and insects like scorpions. The task team interviewed the head of the orphanage and inspected the building.

On the 10th of January, the implementing team went to Kapisa. There they found the orphanage in very bad shape and yet housing more than 200 children. After meeting with the head of the orphanage, Mr. Nadir, and having visited the orphanage in Parwan the team realized that the Kapisa orphanage ranked the lowest. The children were cold and did not have enough blankets or clothing to cover them, nor did they have enough to eat or materials for burning for heat. The team made their decision to help the two orphanages and went on to Kabul to plan the rest of the work. The decision was made to include the inhabitants of Parwan and Kapisa and do this project with their involvement and input.

The project plan included purchasing the materials from the local province markets and then surveying the widows in Parwan and Kapisa to determine the extent of need. The number of blankets and clothes given to each widow to make was based on individual need with the finished products given to the two orphanages.

On January 11th the raw material, fabric, cotton, needles, thread and such was purchased. The items were 612 meters of fabric for boys clothing, 216 meters of fabric for girls clothing, 1400 meters of fabric for the blanket covers, 700 kg of cotton, thread, buttons and etc. On the 12th January, two people were hired to weigh, cut and distribute the materials. The widows were given clothing and a number of blankets to make along with needles, thread and etc. For every piece of clothing, they were paid 100 Afghanis and for each blanket 80 Afghanis. It took about 15 days for all the clothing and the blankets to be completed. This project helped more than 120 widows who were provided with a means of survival at least for a while.

On January 26th the team went to check the orphanages and to get ready for the distribution of the blankets and the clothes. On January 28th a big ceremony was held in the city of Charikar which included the people of the village, the governor and other important people from the Parwan province. This orphanage was given 69 pieces of boys clothes, 13 pieces of girls clothes and 74 blankets. The children of the orphanage, the people and the government officials were all very happy. The children of the orphanage sang a chorus and the officials spoke of their appreciation of how our project included diverse members of the city. The project not only provided the means for the widows to earn some money and self-respect, but also made the children aware that there are people far away that think about them and in doing so made a bond between the people who care and the people who need the care.

On January 29th the distribution continued in the orphanage of Kapisa province. A ceremony was prepared by the people of the city and the officials of the province. The ceremony started with a chorus by the orphans followed by speeches expressing appreciation of the project for helping the widows and orphans. In this particular orphanage we distributed 135 pieces of boys clothes, 59 pieces of girls clothes and 75 blankets.

On January 30th we also distributed 31 blankets to an orphanage in the 7th division of Kabul in the presence of the head of the orphanage and the official in charge of the 7th division of Kabul. We had previously determined that this orphanage was the poorest and most in need of help in the Kabul area.

This report is a compilation of all the information gathered from the various people who were involved in this project.




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