Help The Afghan Children

Our mission is to help Afghan children become educated, healthy, and productive citizens who are able to fully contribute to building Afghanistan's civil society. We accomplish this by working with supporting partners to establish model community-based schools in different regions of Afghanistan; by providing training to local educators to enhance their professional capacities; and by developing and introducing innovative learning programs
Dec 4, 2013

Teaching peace involves entire communities

community peace building
community peace building

HTAC recognizes that teaching Afghans about peace and cooperation must involve not just schools, but entire communities.  That is why we are investing in educating and training local community leaders and citizens in developing conflict resolution and peace building skills so they can work out their differences in non-confrontational ways while establishing trust and cooperative relationships.

Working with local leaders and other influential citizens, HTAC peace building initiatives in selected regions of the country have helped reduce violence in homes (especially in more rural areas of the country), fighting between neighbors, and have reduced broad-scale aggression between communities.

By giving leaders respect while introducing methods of basic mediatiation and conflict resolution (using many of the same principles their children learn in schol), we are beginning to see local communities embrace the benefits of peaceful everyday living and begin to reject violence, physical aggression and/or threatening behavior.

A major part of HTAC's peace building plan is teaching male leaders to become more comfortable allowing more local women to join local councils and participate in decision-making for their community.  This not only helps protect women's rights and gives them a voice, but the presence of women creates a safer, more trusting environment for peace building to occur. 

Sep 11, 2013

Afghan youth reject fighting; embrace peace[

Afghan youth embracing peace
Afghan youth embracing peace

When Help the Afghan Children decided to introduce its peace education program to 3,000 students at 8 middle schools and high schools in the Paghman District of Afghanistan, fighting and other forms of aggressive behavior were rampant.  During a one-month period prior to the launch of the new program, an astounding 2,848 (separate) incidences of fighting among boys as well as girls were observed, an average of about 142 per day.

Not surprising, our educational team also found that almost 90% of the teachers at these schools were routinely using counter-productive corporal punishment practices in the classroom (hitting, yelling and abusing the students as a way to make them pay attention and learn).  Sadly, most all of these teachers had experienced corporal punishment themselves as students.  Without knowing any better, they had grown up believing this was the acceptable way to motivate children.

Change takes time, but by the end of the first school year, we began to see some positive signs. Corporal punishment was still a significant problem, but now, over 30% of the Paghman teachers were consistently role modeling positive behaviors in the classroom and no longer hitting their students. Through our continuous training, these teachers learned that establishing a safe environment for students to learn was a far better way to motivate them.  Out on the school yards, Incidences of fighting and harassment were still high, but the  monthly average had been reduced by over 32% from nine months earlier.  While all students were attending peace education classes, HTAC had identified and begun training older students (and former bullies) who had embraced the values of peace and were no longer fighting and tormenting other children.  Now, as student peer mediators, the older kids were establishing themselves as new role models for the others.

Our team was encouraged by these modest gains, but our goal was to fundamentally change attitudes and  create a new culture where teachers and students would reject aggressive forms of behavior and embrace the principles of peace and cooperation.  In  year two, we began to see breakthroughs.  Over 62% of all teachers had abandoned corporal punishment altogether.  Meanwhile, fighting and bullying had been reduced by over 63%. and is dropping steadily.  Through teacher peer pressue and continued coaching, we expect up to 90% of the school's 441 teachers to be role-modeling positive behaviors in the classroom.  Out in the school yard, students are commonly using non-violent conflict resolution techniques (learned in class) to peacefully resolve their differences.  Remarkably, many students who would fight one another have become close friends - such is the power of peace.

Sep 11, 2013

I feel powerful! Salima's story

Salima in her computer class
Salima in her computer class

Salima is an 11th grade student at Mirman Nazo High School in vastly underserved Farah Province in southwestern Afghanistan.  Like the overwhelming majority of girls in the region, Salima had never seen or touched a computer, but she had heard wonderful stories about how computer training was transforming the lives of thousands of Afghan girls each year, throughout the country.

The chances of Salima getting her hands on a computer, let along learning any computer basics seemed like a distant dream; that is until HTAC launched a new computer education program at six Farah Province school sites, including Mirman Nazo, where Salima was attending classes.

"I had been hearing a lot about how learning computer skills could change our lives and help us get job, but I knew that in Farah Province, girls' access to computer education was almost impossible", Salima told us.  "Then I heard the wonderful news that Help the Afghan Children was planning to provide a computer class for our school.  I rushed to the Principal's office to sign up for the class, but was told that I would have to get a letter of permission from my parents."

Salima wasn't sure what her parents' response would be; especially her father's.  In many of the conservative regions of Afghanistan, including Farah Province, long-standing cultural norms and traditions typically mean that a girl's place is in the home; even if they graduate from high school.  But that night, when she spoke with and shared her deep wish with her father, Samima was surprised to hear his very positive response.  Salima, to say the least, was overjoyed.

Today, Salima is enrolled and thriving in her computer class and when we asked her how she was doing, a big smile came to her face.  "I feel powerful, confident, and hopeful.  Many thanks to HTAC for giving our school such a good program."

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